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Date of Publication: 
2014/03

Current literature suggests an increased attentional bias toward food stimuli in eating-disordered individuals compared to healthy controls. In line with these research efforts, the present study aims to investigate the processing of food stimuli (enriched by emotional stimuli) between patients diagnosed for anorexia nervosa (AN) and healthy controls by means of electroencephalography. Twenty-two female adolescents (eleven AN patients vs. eleven healthy controls) were investigated. Positive event-related potentials "P300" and "late positive potential" (LPP) reflecting attentional processing (caused by motivationally relevant stimuli) were investigated during passive viewing of the food cue picture stream. This method was used for the first time in a sample of individuals with AN. As a main result, AN patients exhibited a higher amount of attentional bias in P300 and LPP, while watching food stimuli. Moreover, AN patients rated food stimuli as less pleasant. For a conclusion, there is substantial evidence pointing to an abnormal attentional brain reactivity to food pictures in AN. Therefore, food stimuli seem to be more motivationally relevant for AN patients than for healthy controls. By broadening existing knowledge, these findings might bear some implications for the treatment for AN. However, further research is recommended in order to confirm the results coming from rather limited data.

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