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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Jan;35(3):970-88. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.11.001. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

The socio-emotional processing stream in Anorexia Nervosa.

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  • 1King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Section of Eating Disorders (P059), De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.


The significance of socio-emotional factors in development and maintenance of Anorexia Nervosa (AN) has been noted, but the literature is poorly integrated without clear models guiding research or treatment. This systematic review retrieved experimental studies of social-cognitive or affective processing in AN and categorised them using Ochsner's "Social-Emotional Processing Stream." Ochsner's "Processing Stream", based on healthy data, comprises five constructs: (1) acquisition of and (2) recognition and response to social-affective stimuli, (3) low-level and (4) high-level mental state inference and (5) context-sensitive emotion regulation. Thirty-seven experimental studies in Anorexia Nervosa were identified, mapping on to four of the five constructs (not Construct 3). A meta-analysis of nine affect recognition studies was conducted. AN patients demonstrated impairments in each of the four domains with preliminary reports that some difficulties are trait-like, and others ameliorate following recovery. Socio-emotional data was integrated with previous reports of neural abnormalities to generate an AN specific model of socio-emotional processing. Additional research is required for further definition and to translate experimental findings into clinical practice.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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