Publication details

Processing of emotionally ambiguous stimuli in eating disorders: an fMRI pilot study

Authors

HOLŠTAJN ZEMÁNKOVÁ Petra GAJDOŠ Martin SVĚTLÁK Miroslav BAREŠ Martin ŠIRŮČEK Jan KAŠPÁREK Tomáš

Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Citation
Web https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40519-021-01130-7
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40519-021-01130-7
Keywords eating disorders; emotionally ambiguous stimuli; fMRI
Description Purpose People with eating disorders (EDs) have difficulties understanding their own emotions and recognizing the emotions of others, especially in ambiguous settings. We examined the neuronal mechanisms underlying the emotion processing of ambiguous interpersonal stimuli in EDs and healthy controls (HCs). Methods The fMRI data were acquired by a blocked experimental design with 28 women (14 EDs) during the visual presentation of a modified Thematic Apperception Test. Results EDs showed very strong associations between experienced and inferred emotions evoked by the stimuli; no such relationship was found in HCs. HCs displayed elevated left anterior insula activity during the mentalizing condition; EDs showed increased activity in the right supramarginal gyrus and medial prefrontal cortex. Conclusion The two groups seem to apply different strategies for judging emotionally ambiguous stimuli, albeit resulting in equivalent judgments. We assume that activity in the supramarginal gyrus and insula in EDs is linked with suppressing their own perspective while considering emotional states, probably due to alexithymia and the lack of awareness of their own mental states. We hypothesize that the strong correlation between experienced and inferred emotions in EDs could reflect their tendency to use others as a reference point for perceiving themselves and gaining information about their affective state.
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