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Visual scanning during emotion recognition in long-term recovered anorexia nervosa: An eye-tracking study.

Journal article
Authors Lisa Dinkler
Sandra Rydberg Dobrescu
Maria Råstam
I Carina Gillberg
Christopher Gillberg
Elisabet Wentz
Nouchine Hadjikhani
Published in International Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume 52
Issue 6
Pages 691-700
ISSN 0276-3478
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 691-700
Language en
Subject categories Psychiatry


To examine Facial Emotion Recognition (FER) and visual scanning behavior (eye-tracking) during FER in women long-term recovered from teenage-onset anorexia nervosa (recAN) with and without autism spectrum disorder (±ASD) and age-matched comparison women (COMP), using a sensitive design with facial emotion expressions at varying intensities in order to approximate real social contexts.Fifty-seven 38-47-year-old women (26 recAN of whom six with ASD, 31 COMP) participated in the study. They completed a non-verbal FER task, consisting of matching basic emotions at different levels of expression intensity with full emotional expressions. Accuracy, response time and visual scanning behavior were measured.There were no differences between recAN-ASD and COMP in FER accuracy and visual scanning behavior during FER, including eye viewing and hyperscanning. In an exploratory analysis, recAN+ASD were more accurate than recAN-ASD in identifying expressions at low intensity, but not at medium or high expression intensity. Accuracy was not associated with the extent of attention to the eye region.Our data indicate that women long-term recovered from adolescent-onset AN do not have deficits in basic FER ability and visual scanning behavior during FER. However, the presence of comorbid ASD might affect face processing in recovered AN. Future studies investigating basic FER in acute and recovered AN and other conditions need to ensure that the stimuli used are sensitive enough to detect potential deficits.

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