Vol XVII, No. 1, 2017 Comments (0)

Daniela PALOMBA*1, Marta VENTURINI1, Marialuisa RAUSA2,
Sara Anastasia CONTIN2, Barbara PENOLAZZI3,


1University of Padova, Padova, Italy
2Centro Gruber, Bologna, Italy
3University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy


The present study explored the association between some psychological symptoms related to worry, metacognition, and autonomic activity, in a group of 13 patients with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) as compared to 13 healthy controls (HCs). Specifically, trait and state anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms and metacognitive beliefs were assessed through self-report questionnaires. Heart rate (HR) and skin conductance (SC), as representative measures of autonomic activation, were recorded at rest. Patients with AN reported significantly higher anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms and maladaptive metacognitions than HCs. Further, patients showed significantly lower skin conductance level (SCL) and HR than HCs, pointing to an overall autonomic hypo-activation, which was in contrast with psychological symptoms. A significant correlation was observed between HR, but not SCL, and body mass index (BMI) in patients, suggesting that autonomic hypo-activation could only partially be ascribed to the reduced body weight, as measured through BMI. Remarkably, a significant negative correlation was found between patients’ SCL and a metacognitive dimension (i.e., the negative beliefs concerning the consequences of not controlling thoughts), which may have critical implications for AN treatment.

Keywords: Anorexia nervosa, eating disorders, sympathetic activity, skin conductance, worry, metacognition

Doi: 10.24193/jebp.2017.1.1

Published online: 2017/03/01
Published print: 2017/03/01

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