Emotional and autobiographical memory deficits in anorexia nervosa

Tímea Krizbai, Laura Csenki, Bea Pászthy, P. Szabó

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


In eating disorders, the pathological and disordered eating behaviors are manifestations of serious underlying emotional issues. An individual struggling with an eating disorder does not learn how to accept, manage and express their emotions. Emotional functioning deficits of affect regulation deficits have been widely examined in eating disorders (Taska et al., 2009; Vansteelandt, Rijmen, Pieters, Probst, Vanderlinden, 2007). Affect regulation deficit means that the emotional responses are poorly modulated, and do not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response. Studies show that the overgenerality of the autobiographical memory can also be an affect regulation strategy for diminishing the negative emotions in anorexia nervosa (Williams, 1996). Conway (1995) considers that autobiographical memory is organized hierarchically, event-specific memories are at the basis of the hierarchy, and they are representations of the personal experiences, which are vivid memories. On the top of the hierarchy are the life stories which are representations of longer periods and they are rather vague. General memories are vaguer and emotionally more neutral than specific memories. The aims of our study were to analyze the affective responses to different food stimuli on the dimension of valence, arousal and dominance, and the functioning of autobiographical memory in girls suffering from anorexia nervosa. Our results show that, in the responses to food images, a specific emotion regulation deficit can be detected in anorexic patients. The anorexia nervosa also causes differences in recalling specific memories related to negative and positive cue words. Furthermore the positive specific memories strongly connect with the eating disorder symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-204
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Emotion regulation deficits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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