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Eye movement abnormalities in anorexia nervosa

Psychiatry Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0165-1781(97)00139-x
  • Electro-Oculography
  • Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements
  • Eating Disorders
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract The aim of the present study is to investigate smooth pursuit eye movement and saccadic performance in anorexia nervosa during a restored weight period and to determine if functional links can be made between eye movement performance and clinical features. SPEM parameters were recorded for 28 female anorectic out-patients (DSM IV), who had a body weight loss of up to 20% of ideal body weight. Twenty-eight comparison subjects were also tested. Clinically, each patient was assessed using the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), the Structured Interview for Personality Disorders (SCID II), the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R) and the Hamilton Scale for Depression (HRSD). The anorectic patients performed slightly worse than the comparison subjects on a number of SPEM measures. No relationship was found between SPEM impairment and a global severity index of psychopathology (SCL 90-R GSI) or depressive symptoms. Moreover, OCD symptoms and scores on some EDI scales (such as perfectionism) appear related to the severity of the eye movement alterations. The evidence of SPEM abnormalities in a subgroup of anorectic patients during the remitted state and the relationship of the abnormalities to obsessive-compulsive symptoms are discussed. Results are in agreement with the hypothesis regarding the persistence of neurophysiological as well as psychopathological traits of disorder in anorectic patients.

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