Heightened self-reported punishment sensitivity, but no differential attention to cues signaling punishment or reward in anorexia nervosa

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Abstract

This study examined whether adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN) are more sensitive to punishment and less sensitive to reward than a non-eating disorder comparison group. Both self-report and performance measures were used to index reward and punishment sensitivity. Participants were adolescents with AN (n = 69) and an individually matched comparison group with healthy weight (n = 69). They completed the Behavioral Inhibition Scale/Behavioral Activation Scale and the Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire to index self-reported reward and punishment sensitivity, and performed the Spatial Orientation Task to index attention to cues signaling reward and punishment. There was extremely strong evidence (BF10 > 100), that adolescents with AN reported higher sensitivity to punishment than adolescents without an eating disorder. However, adolescents with AN did not differ from the comparison group on self-reported reward sensitivity, and attention to cues signaling reward or punishment. Adolescents with AN clearly show heightened punishment sensitivity, yet this was not paralleled by a heightened proneness to detect signals of punishment. An important next step would be to examine whether punishment sensitivity is a reliable risk factor for the development or maintenance of AN.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0229742
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3-Mar-2020

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