Neural processes related to negative self-concept in adult and adolescent anorexia nervosa

Carlisdania J. Mendoza, Jayme M. Palka, Sarah E. Pelfrey, Bethany J. Hunt, Daniel C. Krawczyk, Carrie J. McAdams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Negative self-concept is characteristic of anorexia nervosa (AN), but the neural processes mediating this component of AN is unknown. These studies investigated how valence and social perspectives impact neural processing in both adults and adolescents with AN. Method: In an fMRI task, participants evaluated positive and negative adjectives from three social perspectives. Two studies were completed, one in 59 women (healthy, with AN, recovered from AN) and one in 42 adolescents (healthy, with AN). Neural regions of interest (ROIs) related to valence were identified and activations compared across groups and social perspectives. Results: Behaviourally, both adult and adolescent cohorts with AN were less positive during self-evaluations. In the adult study, neural differences related to clinical group and condition were observed in ROIs more responsive to positive social stimuli (medial prefrontal cortex, precuneus, left temporoparietal junction) but not in ROIs more responsive to negative social stimuli. No neural differences in relation to clinical group were observed in the adolescents. Conclusions: Behavioural differences related to negative self-concept are present in both adolescents and adults with AN, and neural differences, selective for positive social stimuli, were also observed in adults. AN may interfere with neurodevelopmental processes involved in positive self-concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • eating disorders
  • neuroimaging
  • self-esteem
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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