Penn Undergrad Examines Borderline Personality Disorder, Impulsive Decision-Making
This summer, Christeen Samuel, a University Scholar and a sophomore from New York City, spent 10 weeks in western Germany using technology to observe how the brain changes when a person makes an impulsive, aggressive choice, such as road rage.
A biological basis of behavior major in the School of Arts & Sciences, Samuel studied the neural correlates of aggressive and impulsive decision-making among people who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, or BPD, a condition that creates instability in moods.
Her research, which will continue for another year, focuses on how brain structures change, comparing the brains of people with BPD to the brains of those without the disorder.
“My goal was to conduct my own research on the brain’s mechanisms for impulsivity and aggression,” says Samuel.
The research opportunity in Germany came about when Samuel consulted her University Scholars mentor, Ruben Gur, a neuropsychologist in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, who told her about a longstanding partnership between Penn and RWTH Aachen University to conduct collaborative neuroscience research. The exchange allows German dissertation students to spend time at Penn and Penn students to do the same in Germany.