Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Emotional Awareness and Cognitive Performance in Borderline Intellectual Functioning Young Adolescents

Smirni, Daniela, PhD*; Smirni, Pietro, PhD; Di Martino, Giovanni, PhD; Operto, Francesca Felicia, MD§; Carotenuto, Marco, MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: May 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 5 - p 365–370
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000972
Original Articles

According to DSM-5 and ICD-10, borderline intellectual functioning (BIF) should not be classified properly as a disorder. However, BIF people may present relevant problems of adaptive functioning in several areas of daily activities, and they seem to be more vulnerable to mental diseases. Young adolescence may be considered a particular period for emotional information processing. The “own and others' emotions” awareness can play a crucial role in many daily life situations, such as decision making, interpersonal relationships, and decoding of facial expressions. On this background, a BIF young adolescents group underwent a neuropsychological assessment including emotional and cognitive domains, and was compared with a healthy young adolescents control group (HC). In the overall sample, a significant negative correlation between general intellectual abilities and emotional awareness was found. The BIF group showed a significantly greater level of alexithymia and a poorer performance in higher cognitive tasks than HC group. As hypothesized, a border cognitive functioning influences mentalization processes as ability to discriminate and monitor emotions, as well as higher domains of cognition.

*Department of Psychology, Educational Science and Human Movement, University of Palermo, Palermo;

Dipartimento di Scienze della Formazione, Università degli Studi di Catania, Catania;

Servizio di Psicologia, A.S.P., Ragusa;

§Basic Medical Sciences, Neuroscience and Sense Organs Department, University of the Study of Bari “Aldo Moro,” Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Consorziale Policlinico di Bari, Bari; and

Clinic of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Department of Mental Health, Physical and Preventive Medicine, Università degli Studi della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli,” Naples, Italy.

Send reprint requests to Daniela Smirni, PhD, Department of Psychology, Educational Science and Human Movement, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, Ed. 15, 90128, Palermo, Italy. E-mail:

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.