Differences in attentional and inhibitory processes and emotion regulation between patients with anorexia nervosa and healthy controls

Previous research has shown that individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa (AN) have abnormal processing of cognitive and emotional information, which might serve as a risk factor for developing and maintaining this eating disorder. In order to obtain more knowledge on this complex mental disorder, we made use of experimental paradigms to detect possible differences in (1) attentional processes and their relationship to food related pictures, (2) emotion regulation of negative feedback, and (3) rewarded response inhibition between AN patients and healthy controls.

AN patients of the restrictive type and a healthy control group without an eating disorder were invited to participate in the current study. Several tasks were carried out: (1) an engagement-disengagement task with food stimuli (eye movements were registered as a measure for attentional processes), (2) a cognitive control task with feedback, and (3) a go no go task with reward, which also made use of food stimuli. Heart rate variability (HRV) was measured throughout the whole experiment as a measure of emotion regulation.

For more information, contact Louise.Puttevils@UGent.be