Subcortical brain morphometry of avoidant personality disorder

Savannah N. Gosnell, Katharine E. Crooks, Meghan Robinson, John Oldham, Michelle A. Patriquin, James Chris Fowler, Ramiro Salas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) is a condition typified by social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation. AvPD has a high comorbidity rate with other personality disorders and other psychological diagnostic categories. There is very little research investigating subcortical volumetry in AvPD. We studied subcortical brain morphometry in AvPD as compared to both healthy controls and comorbidity-matched psychiatric controls (patients in the same clinic matched for age, sex and all psychiatric diagnoses except for AvPD). Methods: We compared volumetric measures of 9 bilateral subcortical brain regions between AvPD patients, healthy controls, and psychiatric controls (n = 100 each group). The Bonferroni correction was used to control for multiple comparisons across regions (p < 0.0028). Results: Compared to healthy controls, AvPD patients had lower volume of the left accumbens and left thalamus. However, no significant results were found when comparing AvPD patients and psychiatric controls. An exploratory study of cortical regions showed similar results: statistically significant differences between HC and AvPD (left lateral occipital, left and right pericalcarine smaller in AvPD) but no differences between AvPD and PC. Limitations: MRI and neuroimaging provides correlational information, and no causal claims can be made. Conclusions: These results suggest there may be no overt subcortical volumetric differences specific to AvPD, and provide strong cautionary advice when comparing patients to healthy controls, a common practice in psychiatry biomarker research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1061
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Brain morphometry
  • Gray matter, MRI
  • Subcortical volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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