Self-focused attention in anorexia nervosa


Journal Article

© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Objective The clinical presentation of anorexia nervosa (AN) is characterized by preoccupation with body experience, intrusive concerns regarding shape, and pathological fears of weight gain. These symptoms are suggestive of unrelenting self-focused attention. No research to date has characterized self-focused attention (SFA) in AN nor examined neurocognitive features that may facilitate an excessive, rigid, or sustained focus on one's appearance. Method This study examined SFA, body image disturbance, and executive functioning in women with current anorexia nervosa (AN-C; n=24), a history of AN who were weight-restored at the time of the study (WR; n=19), and healthy controls (n=24). Results Private and public SFA were highest among WR and lowest among AN-C. Shape concerns were negatively correlated with SFA, especially among AN-C, after controlling for depression and social anxiety symptoms. Discussion Lower levels of SFA among AN-C were unexpected and suggest the acute state of AN may lessen pathological self-focus, negatively reinforcing symptoms. In addition, body image concerns may distract from general SFA. Deficits in executive attention may explain these findings, as each one unit increase in perseverative errors among AN-C participants was associated with an almost one-half unit decrease in public SFA.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zucker, N; Wagner, HR; Merwin, R; Bulik, CM; Moskovich, A; Keeling, L; Hoyle, R

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 48 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 9 - 14

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-108X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0276-3478

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/eat.22307

Citation Source

  • Scopus