November 30, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Racine Presents ‘Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa Have Difficulties Regulating Emotions’

Dr. Sarah Racine

Dr. Sarah Racine

Dr. Sarah Racine, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ohio University, presented her research on “Individuals with anorexia nervosa have difficulties regulating their emotions: Results from the emotion-modulated startle paradigm” at the 2015 Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Convention, held Nov. 12-15, in Chicago.

Her presentation was part of a symposium that she chaired, titled “Psychophysiological Measurement of Transdiagnotic Constructs with Relevance to Eating Disorders”.

Abstract for Psychophysiological Measurement of Transdiagnotic Constructs with Relevance to Eating Disorders

Objective #1: Introduce psychophysiological markers commonly examined in psychopathology research.

Objective #2: Describe the relationships among psychophysiological markers of cognitive behavioral mechanisms and eating disorder psychopathology.

Objective #3: Discuss the ways in which psychophysiology research can be used to improve treatments for eating disorders and other psychological conditions.

Theme and Summary Abstract: Psychopathology research has become increasingly interested in identifying cognitive-behavioral mechanisms that cut across traditional diagnostic categories and that have the potential to be targeted in novel transdignostic treatments (e.g., Barlow et al., 2010). In order to fully elucidate the ways in which these mechanisms contribute to the development and maintenance of psychological problems, it is necessary to employ both explicit and implicit measurement approaches. Psychophysiological methods are particularly advantageous as implicit measures given well-established relations between psychophysiological markers and neural circuitry (e.g., fear-potentiated startle and amygdala responsivity; Davis, 1998). Not only can psychophysiology research be used to examine abnormal processing of stimuli in relation to core cognitive-behavioral mechanisms, these parameters are sensitive to change and can be used to investigate the effectiveness of various interventions on implicit processes.

This symposium presents novel data on the use of psychophysiological measures for assessing transdiagnostic constructs (i.e., emotion, emotion regulation, disgust sensitivity, perfectionism) with relevance to eating disorders. Eating disorders are arguably a domain of psychopathology for which the use of implicit measures is critical. Most research on eating disorders has focused on self-reported cognitive-behavioral difficulties. However, the guilt, shame, and secrecy that accompany eating disorders and their component symptoms (Basile, 2004; Sanftner et al., 1995) likely exacerbate already existing biases in self-report methods. Notably, despite the focus of this symposium on eating disorders, the constructs and psychophysiological paradigms that are discussed are relevant for many presenting psychological problems.

The first presentation by Sarah Racine discusses the use of the emotion modulated startle paradigm for assessing both emotional reactivity and voluntary emotion regulation in a sample of patients with anorexia nervosa (AN). Next, Dorian Dodd presents data on facial electromyography activity as a measure of disgust to images of varying female body types, including extremely underweight bodies, and the relation between facial disgust reactions and eating disorder symptomatology. Emily Panza, the third speaker, discusses an interesting study on “comfort eating” that examines changes in both self-reported and psychophysiological markers of emotion after the consumption of palatable food following a stressful task. The final talk by April Smith investigates the effectiveness of a cognitive bias modification for reducing perfectionistic interpretations and the impact of this retraining on physiologic responses to stress and on disordered eating symptoms. Eunice Chen, an expert in both the biological etiology and treatment of eating disorders, will close by discussing the translational implications of psychophysiology research for improved treatment of eating disorders and other psychological conditions.

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