Neuropsychiatric impairment in impulsive personality disorders

Dan J. Stein, Eric Hollander, Lisa Cohen, Maxim Frenkel, Jihad B. Saoud, Concetta DeCaria, Bonnie Aronowitz, Andrew Levin, Michael R. Liebowitz, Lee Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that impulsivity and aggression are associated with neuropsychiatric impairment. Neurological soft signs may be a useful marker of nonspecific brain damage, and may therefore be increased in impulsive and aggressive patients compared with normal control subjects. A structured examination was used to evaluate neurological soft signs in 28 patients with personality disorders characterized by impulsivity and 28 healthy control subjects. All of the patients met DSM-III-R criteria for borderline personality disorder, and 10 also met criteria for antisocial personality disorder. All patients were questioned about past history of physical aggression, and a subset of 18 patients underwent neuropsychological testing with a select battery. Left-sided neurological soft signs were significantly increased in patients compared with normal control subjects. Patients with a history of aggression, however, had significantly more right-sided neurological soft signs than those without a history of aggression. Increased neurological soft signs were associated with impairment on the Wisconsin Card Sort, a test of frontal lobe executive function. Specific neuropsychiatric abnormalities, such as lateralized neurological soft signs and associated impairment on select neuropsychological tests, may be present in patients with personality disorders characterized by impulsivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-266
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Neurological soft signs
  • antisocial personality
  • borderline personality
  • cognition
  • neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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