Author(s): Dalmaso M, Castelli L, Franchetti L, Carli L, Todisco P,
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Abstract The study of cognitive processes in anorexia nervosa (AN) is largely unexplored, although recent evidence suggests the presence of impairments in both social cognition and attention processing. Here we investigated AN patients' ability to orient attention in response to social and symbolic visual stimuli. AN patients and matched controls performed a task in which gaze and pointing gestures acted as social directional cues for spatial attention. Arrows were also included as symbolic cue. On each trial, a centrally-placed cue appeared oriented rightwards or leftwards. After either 200 or 700ms, a lateralized neutral target (a letter) requiring a discrimination response appeared in a location either spatially congruent or incongruent with the directional cue. Controls showed a reliable orienting irrespective of both temporal interval and cue type. AN patients showed a reliable orienting at both temporal intervals only in response to pointing gestures. Both gaze and arrow cues failed to orient attention at the short temporal interval, that is when attention is under reflexive control, whereas a reliable orienting emerged at the long temporal interval. These results provide preliminary evidence of altered reflexive orienting of attention in AN patients that does not extend to body-related cues such as pointing gestures. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Psychiatry Res
and referenced in Clinical and Experimental Psychology