Incidental learning of food and emotional words in women with anorexia nervosa

  • T. Suslow
  • P. Ohrmann
  • J. Lalee-Mentzel
  • U.-S. Donges
  • V. Arolt
  • A. Kersting
Original Research Paper


Prior research suggests that anorexic patients show a memory bias for fattening foods when they are processed in depth or with reference to the self. The present study examined whether anorexic subjects exhibit a bias for fattening foods when these are presented as task-irrelevant distractor stimuli. It also investigated whether anorexic patients pay less attention to emotion stimuli. A sequential word-word evaluation task was administered to 11 inpatients with anorexia nervosa and 11 non-dieting normal subjects. There were four types of distractor words: high caloric foods, positive, negative, and neutral. Anorexic patients recalled no more food words but fewer neutral and positive words than normal subjects. The present data suggest that, compared to healthy young women, anorexic patients show no memory bias for fattening foods when these data are presented as peripheral environmental information. Anorexic patients are perceptually no less sensitive to negative emotional information than normal subjects.

Key words

Anorexia memory incidental learning food emotional valence 


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Copyright information

© Editrice Kurtis 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Suslow
    • 1
  • P. Ohrmann
    • 1
  • J. Lalee-Mentzel
    • 1
  • U.-S. Donges
    • 1
  • V. Arolt
    • 1
  • A. Kersting
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, School of MedicineUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany

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