The affective decision making of 41 recently treated outpatient women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) was compared to 41 healthy controls using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Non-affective executive functions (EF) of working memory, interference control, and motor inhibition were also compared. Associations among affective and non-affective EF were examined. Despite normal range intelligence, Stroop interference, motor inhibition, and working memory, women with BPD made significantly more disadvantageous IGT decisions than controls (Cohen's d = .72) that were unrelated to substance abuse history, education, psychotropic use, or attentional deficits. Correlates of EF and IGT performance varied by group. Intellect, BPD, and intact behavioral control explained 35% of the adjusted variance in net IGT performance. Disadvantageous IGT decision making was the only EF to predict BPD. IGT deficits in BPD may be separable from IQ and other EF as supported by the somatic marker hypothesis and suggest a stable, trait-like vulnerability favoring immediate reward over long-term gain in women with the disorder.
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