Socio-emotional function and comorbidities in anorexia nervosa

Posted 31/07/2018


This project aims to understand the way in which people with anorexia nervosa and those who have recovered from anorexia nervosa process emotional and social information, compared to healthy controls.

What is the purpose of this research?

Existing research has shown that people with anorexia have problems understanding other’s emotions and intentions, however findings are mixed. There is a need to investigate these abilities using more realistic tests, while also taking into account traits that might affect these abilities (for example, social anxiety). The purpose of this study is to investigate social and emotional functioning in anorexia nervosa compared with both healthy individuals and those recovered from anorexia, as well as comorbid traits that might affect this.

Who can take part?

Those who currently have a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, or have had one in the past but are now recovered, can take part. We are recruiting both males and females. To take part, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Aged between 18 and 55
  • Be fluent in English
  • Have normal or corrected to normal vision (e.g., wear glasses or contact lenses)
  • No history of brain trauma, neurological impairment, or serious learning disability
  • Be able to travel to the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Neuroscience, in Denmark Hill, South London, for testing

What does the study involve?

Once you have read and understood the consent form, we will give you a variety of questionnaires to fill in. You will then complete some computer tasks involving emotion recognition and social perception, some of which will use an eye-tracker. The eye-tracker is non-invasive, and just involves looking at images and videos. The researcher will also conduct a clinical interview with you to assess mental health and wellbeing and autistic traits. This interview will be video recorded to help the researcher with coding at a later date. The researcher will also take your height and weight (but you will have the option of being blind weighed). All data will be kept anonymous.

The whole procedure will take around 2hrs 30mins, but this testing session can be split into two separate sessions if you wish. You will be reimbursed £20 for your time and travel expenses.

How can you take part?

If you would like to know more information and take part in the study, please email the researcher (details below). She will send you a participant information sheet and arrange a time for you to come in if you wish to take part.

Researcher: Jess Kerr-Gaffney
PhD student, King’s College London,

King's College London