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Biased processing of ED-relevant stimuli (eg Fairburn, Shafran, & Cooper, 1999) and 5-HT function (Kaye, Fudge, & Paulus, 2009) are implicated in vulnerability to and the maintenance of eating disorders (EDs), but it is not known if these findings are connected: Could manipulating 5-HT function affect the processing of ED-relevant stimuli? To address this question we assessed emotional processing in female dieters (T+n=12, T-n=14) following acute low dose tryptophan depletion. ATD increased interference in the masked condition of the emotional Stroop to all negative emotional stimuli, in the absence of any other differences in emotional processing. These results suggest that ATD affects the processing of some negative (including ED-relevant) stimuli, and that reduced 5-HT function may be involved in some aspects of psychological vulnerability to EDs.

Original publication




Journal article


Eat Behav

Publication Date





154 - 157


Adolescent, Adult, Affect, Diet, Reducing, Double-Blind Method, Emotions, Female, Humans, Hunger, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Psychological Tests, Stroop Test, Tryptophan, Young Adult