Neurobiological and behavioural studies of affective instability in clinical populations: a systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Colleges, School and Institutes


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the neurobiological, psychophysical and behavioural measures of affective instability in clinical populations.

DATA SOURCES: A range of medical and psychological science electronic databases were searched (including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO). Hand searching and reference checking are also included.

REVIEW METHODS: Reviews, systematic reviews, experimental and cross-sectional studies, providing affective instability in neurobiological and behavioural measurements in clinical populations. Studies were selected, data were extracted and quality was appraised.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine studies were included, 6 of which were review studies (one a meta-analysis) and 23 of which were primary studies, across a wide variety of disorders including ADHD, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, severe mood dysregulation, major depression, and borderline personality disorder.

CONCLUSIONS: The bulk of the studies converge on the role of the amygdala, particularly in borderline personality disorders, and how it connects with other areas of the brain. Future research needs to extend these findings across diagnoses and development.

Bibliographic note



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience and biobehavioral reviews
Early online date4 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Brain/physiopathology, Humans, Mood Disorders/physiopathology