Neural correlates of the processing of self-referent emotional information in bulimia nervosa.
Pringle A., Ashworth F., Harmer CJ., Norbury R., Cooper MJ.
There is increasing interest in understanding the roles of distorted beliefs about the self, ostensibly unrelated to eating, weight and shape, in eating disorders (EDs), but little is known about their neural correlates. We therefore used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural correlates of self-referent emotional processing in EDs. During the scan, unmedicated patients with bulimia nervosa (n=11) and healthy controls (n=16) responded to personality words previously found to be related to negative self beliefs in EDs and depression. Rating of the negative personality descriptors resulted in reduced activation in patients compared to controls in parietal, occipital and limbic areas including the amygdala. There was no evidence that reduced activity in patients was secondary to increased cognitive control. Different patterns of neural activation between patients and controls may be the result of either habituation to personally relevant negative self beliefs or of emotional blunting in patients.