Differential valuation and learning from social and non-social cues in Borderline Personality Disorder
Fineberg SK., Leavitt J., Stahl D., Kronemer S., Landry C., Alexander-Bloch A., Hunt L., Corlett P.
Background: Volatile interpersonal relationships are a core feature of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and lead to devastating disruption of patients' personal and professional lives. Quantitative models of social decision making and learning hold promise for defining the underlying mechanisms of this problem. In this study, we tested BPD and control subject weighting of social versus non-social information, and their learning about choices under stable and volatile conditions. We compared behavior using quantitative models. Methods: Subjects (n=20 BPD, n=23 control) played an extended reward learning task with a partner (confederate) that requires learning about non-social and social cue reward probability (The Social Valuation Task). Task experience was measured using language metrics: explicit emotions/beliefs, talk about the confederate, and implicit distress (using the previously established marker self-referentiality). Subjects' weighting of social and non-social cues was tested in mixed-effects regression models. Subjects' learning rates under stable and volatile conditions were modelled (Rescorla-Wagner approach) and group x condition interactions tested. Results: Compared to controls, BPD subject debriefings included more mentions of the confederate and less distress language. BPD subjects also weighted social cues more heavily, but had blunted learning responses to (non-social and social) volatility. Conclusions: This is the first report of patient behavior in the Social Valuation Task. The results suggest that BPD subjects expect higher volatility than do controls. These findings lay the groundwork for a neuro-computational dissection of social and non-social belief updating in BPD, which holds promise for the development of novel clinical interventions that more directly target pathophysiology.