Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by disadvantageous decisions that are often expressed in close relationships and associated with intense negative emotions. Although functional neuroimaging studies of BPD have described regions associated with altered social cognition and emotion processing, these correlates do not inform an understanding of how brain activity leads to maladaptive choices. Drawing on recent research, we argue that formal models of decision-making are crucial to elaborating theories of BPD that bridge psychological constructs, behavior, and neural systems. We propose that maladaptive interactions between Pavlovian and instrumental influences play a crucial role in the expression of interpersonal problems. Finally, we articulate specific hypotheses about how clinical features of BPD may map onto neural systems that implement separable decision processes.
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