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Open AccessArticle

Emotion Recognition Abilities in Adults with Anorexia Nervosa are Associated with Autistic Traits

1
Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London SE5 8AB, UK
2
Centre for Brain & Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1E 7JL, UK
3
Department of Forensic & Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London SE5 8AB, UK
4
School of Human Sciences, University of Greenwich, London SE10 9LS, UK
5
Department of Psychology and Human Development, University College London, London WC1H 0AA, UK
6
South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, National Eating Disorders Service, Psychological Medicine Clinical Academic Group, London SE5 8AZ, UK
7
Department of Psychology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi 0162, Georgia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(4), 1057; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041057
Received: 20 February 2020 / Revised: 2 April 2020 / Accepted: 3 April 2020 / Published: 8 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Eating Disorders)
Difficulties in socio-emotional functioning are proposed to contribute to the development and maintenance of anorexia nervosa (AN). This study aimed to examine emotion recognition abilities in individuals in the acute and recovered stages of AN compared to healthy controls (HCs). A second aim was to examine whether attention to faces and comorbid psychopathology predicted emotion recognition abilities. The films expressions task was administered to 148 participants (46 AN, 51 recovered AN, 51 HC) to assess emotion recognition, during which attention to faces was recorded using eye-tracking. Comorbid psychopathology was assessed using self-report questionnaires and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule–2nd edition (ADOS-2). No significant differences in emotion recognition abilities or attention to faces were found between groups. However, individuals with a lifetime history of AN who scored above the clinical cut-off on the ADOS-2 displayed poorer emotion recognition performance than those scoring below cut-off and HCs. ADOS-2 scores significantly predicted emotion recognition abilities while controlling for group membership and intelligence. Difficulties in emotion recognition appear to be associated with high autism spectrum disorder (ASD) traits, rather than a feature of AN. Whether individuals with AN and high ASD traits may require different treatment strategies or adaptations is a question for future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: anorexia nervosa; ASD; comorbidity; emotion recognition; attention anorexia nervosa; ASD; comorbidity; emotion recognition; attention
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kerr-Gaffney, J.; Mason, L.; Jones, E.; Hayward, H.; Ahmad, J.; Harrison, A.; Loth, E.; Murphy, D.; Tchanturia, K. Emotion Recognition Abilities in Adults with Anorexia Nervosa are Associated with Autistic Traits. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 1057. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041057

AMA Style

Kerr-Gaffney J, Mason L, Jones E, Hayward H, Ahmad J, Harrison A, Loth E, Murphy D, Tchanturia K. Emotion Recognition Abilities in Adults with Anorexia Nervosa are Associated with Autistic Traits. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2020; 9(4):1057. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041057

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kerr-Gaffney, Jess; Mason, Luke; Jones, Emily; Hayward, Hannah; Ahmad, Jumana; Harrison, Amy; Loth, Eva; Murphy, Declan; Tchanturia, Kate. 2020. "Emotion Recognition Abilities in Adults with Anorexia Nervosa are Associated with Autistic Traits" J. Clin. Med. 9, no. 4: 1057. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041057

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