Brain mapping in a case of multiple personality


Brain mapping in a case of multiple personality.
 Hughes JR, Kuhlman DT, Fichtner CG, Gruenfeld MJ.
 Department of Neurology, University of Illinois, Chicago 60612.
 Brain maps were recorded on a patient with a multiple personality disorder (10 alternate personalities). Maps were recorded with eyes open and eyes closed during 2 different sessions, 2 months apart. Maps from each alternate personality were compared to those of the basic personality “S”, some maps were similar and some were different, especially with eyes open. Findings that were replicated in the second session showed differences from 4 personalities, especially in theta and beta 2 frequencies on the left temporal and right posterior regions. A rank ordering of the differences in the brain maps of the alternate personalities from S were similar to the rank ordering of the differences in personality characteristics, as judged by the psychiatrist dealing with this patient. Maps from S acting like some of her personalities or from a professional actress portraying the different personalities did not reveal significant differences. Some of these findings are consistent with those in the literature, and the importance of detecting artifact in the raw EEG recording is emphasized.
 Publication Types:
Case Reports
From the BBC’s “Tomorrow’s World” WEDNESDAY 15th December 1999
For the first time, a patient with multiple personality disorder has been monitored using an MRI scanner while switching characters. The scans showed marked changes taking place in her brain. Intriguingly the hippocampus, an area associated with long-term memory, switches off during the change to an alter ego and is reactivated on the switch back.
Multiple personality disorder (MPD) is a controversial area of mental health. It has been met with scepticism from some psychiatrists who feel the condition isn’t genuine. Others say that while it’s very rare, MPD is certainly real and usually stems from childhood trauma and abuse. They say the extra personalities are brought into being by the patient to protect themselves from the reality of their situation.
Carrying out tests like this has been difficult for two reasons. First, functional MRI’s which can measure brain activity are only a recent innovation, and second finding a patient who can switch personality on demand while in a scanner is very unusual. The psychiatrists involved in the experiment say more work is needed to draw any general conclusions. Nevertheless, it provides some evidence that there may be a physiological basis to the condition.
PMID: 2225470 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]


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