A review of attention biases in women with eating disorders

  • Aspen V
  • Darcy A
  • Lock J
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Abstract

There is robust evidence that women with eating disorders (EDs) display an attention bias (AB) for disorder-salient stimuli. Emerging data suggest that the presence of these biases may be due, in part, to neurological deficits, such as poor set shifting and weak central coherence. While some have argued that these biases function to predispose and/or act to maintain disordered eating behaviours, evidence supporting this view has rarely been examined. This report summarises and integrates the existing literature on AB in EDs and other related psychiatric disorders to better understand its potential role in the development and maintenance of an ED. The domains reviewed include experimental data using the dot-probe and modified Stroop task and neurobiological findings on AB in women with EDs as well as the role of AB in current theoretical models. We conclude by proposing an integrated model on the role of AB in EDs and discuss treatment approaches aimed at modifying these biases.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attention bias
  • Attention bias modification
  • Eating disorders
  • Information processing biases
  • Meta-analysis

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Authors

  • Vandana Aspen

  • Alison M. Darcy

  • James Lock

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