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Date of Publication: 
2012/06

Background: The clinical picture of anorexia nervosa represents a severe disease, during which serious physical and mental complications can occur. Girls and young women are most affected, the aetiopathogenesis is usually multifactorial. Therefore a multi-modal therapeutic approach should always be applied. Aim: Based on the assumption, that anorectic patients show malfunctions in the affective processing of emotional and food stimuli, the objective of this study was to investigate the effects of an alpha neurofeedback-training on the affective assessment of different picture categories. Neurofeedback is based on the principle of operant conditioning and allows you to gain control of your brain activity. Methods: The sample involved 14 anorectic girls (aged 12 to 19), evenly distributed between an investigative group and a clinical control group. While the investigative group received neurofeeback-training in addition to the clinical therapy for five weeks, the clinical control group was treated only with conventional therapies. We investigated the affective assessments of different types of picture categories (pleasant, highly calorific, low calorific, neutral, unpleasant) relating to the two parameters valence and arousal before (first point of measurement) and after neurofeedback-training (second point of measurement) and compared them with the results of the control group. Furthermore the possible changes of the BMI were investigated. Results: At the second point of measurement, there was a significant increase in BMI in the investigative as well as in the control group. In the assessment of the pleasant, highly calorific, low calorific and neutral images, there were no significant changes regarding the two parameters valence and arousal in both groups. The unpleasant pictures were assessed as significantly less exciting (arousal) and significantly less uncomfortable (valence) at the second point of measurement by both groups. Discussion: Based on the fact that the BMI and the assessment of unpleasant images changed in the same way in the investigative as well as in the control group, the effectiveness of the  conventional clinical therapy was proved, but the results also demonstrate, that it isn`t possible to take impact through additional neurofeedback on the BMI and the emotional state of mind in anorectic patients.

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