• The Neural Correlates of a Central Coherence Task in Young Women with Anorexia Nervosa

      Leslie, Monica; Halls, Daniel; Leppanen, Jenni; Sedgewick, Felicity; Lang, Katie; Fonville, Leon; Simic, Mima; Mandy, William; Nicholls, Dasha; Williams, Steven; et al. (Wiley, 2021-07-18)
      Objective: Heightened detail-processing and low levels of central coherence are common in individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and predict poorer prognosis. However, it is unclear whether these processing styles predate the disorder or, rather, emerge during later stages of AN. The current study aimed to address this question by investigating central coherence, and the neural correlates of central coherence, in a sample of young women with AN with shorter duration of illness than previous studies recruiting adult samples. Methods: We recruited 186 participants, including: 73 young women with AN, 45 young women weight-recovered from AN, and 68 age-matched controls. Participants completed the Embedded Figures Task during an fMRI scan. Results: There were no significant differences between the participant groups in performance accuracy or reaction time. There were no other between-groups differences in neural response to the Embedded Figures Task. Conclusions: These findings contrast with evidence from older adults demonstrating differences in the neural underpinning of central coherence amongst participants with AN versus control participants. The current study adds to an increasing literature base demonstrating the resilience of neuropsychological traits and associated brain systems in the early stages of AN.
    • A Novel Approach for Autism Spectrum Condition patients with Eating Disorders: Analysis of Treatment Cost-savings

      Tchanturia, Kate; Dandil, Yasemin; Li, Zhuo; Smith, Katherine; Leslie, Monica; Byford, Sarah; King's College London; South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; Illia University (Wiley, 2020-07-10)
      Objective: In the current economic context, it is critical to ensure that eating disorder (ED) treatments are both effective and cost-effective. We describe the impact of a novel clinical pathway developed to better meet the needs of autistic patients with EDs on the length and cost of hospital admissions. Method: The pathway was based on the Institute for Healthcare’s Model of Improvement methodology, using an iterative Plan, Do, Study, Act format to introduce change and to co-produce the work with people with lived experience and with healthcare professionals. We explored the change in length and cost of admissions before and after the pathway was introduced. Results: Preliminary results suggest that the treatment innovations associated with this pathway have led to reduced lengths of admission for patients with the comorbidity, which were not seen for patients without the comorbidity. Estimated cost-savings were approximately £22,837 per patient and approximately £275,000 per year for the service as a whole. Conclusion: Going forward, our aim is to continue to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of investment in the pathway to determine whether the pathway improves the quality of care for patients with a comorbid ED and autism and is good value for money.
    • A Pilot Study Investigating the Influence of Oxytocin on Attentional Bias to Food Images in Women with Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder

      Leslie, Monica; Leppanen, Jenni; Paloyelis, Yannis; Treasure, Janet; King's College London
      Background: Previous research has found that exogenous oxytocin administration has the potential to modulate attentional biases in women with anorexia nervosa. Recent work has indicated that attentional biases to food may reinforce the recurrent binge eating behaviour which characterises bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. To date, however, no study has yet investigated the effect of oxytocin on attentional biases to palatable food in women with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Methods: This study employed a single-session crossover design to test the hypothesis that a divided dose of 64IU intranasal oxytocin, administered as one intranasal dose of 40IU oxytocin followed by a top-up of 24IU oxytocin 80 minutes later, versus placebo administration administered in the same dosing schedule, would reduce attentional biases towards food images in a dot probe task. We hypothesised that oxytocin administration would reduce vigilance towards food to a greater degree in women with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, versus healthy comparison women. Twenty-five women with bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder and 27 comparison women without history of an eating disorder were recruited to take part in the study. Results: Contrary to our hypothesis, there was no main effect of diagnosis on attentional bias to food (fixed effect = 5.70, p = .363), nor a significant interaction between diagnosis and drug condition (fixed effect = -14.80, p = .645). There was a main effect of drug condition, such that oxytocin increased vigilance towards food, versus neutral, images in the dot probe task (fixed effect = 10.42, p = .044). A correlation analysis revealed that this effect was moderated by attentional bias in the placebo condition, such that greater avoidance of food stimuli in the placebo condition was associated with a greater increase in vigilance induced by oxytocin. Conclusion: The current findings add to a mixed body of literature investigating the therapeutic effects of oxytocin in women. Future research would benefit from dose-response studies investigating the optimal dose of oxytocin for modulating the attentional processing of palatable food in populations with eating disorders.
    • Towards a Translational Approach to Food Addiction: Implications for Bulimia Nervosa

      Leslie, Monica; Lambert, Ellen; Treasure, Janet; King's College London
      Purpose of review: In recent years, the food addiction hypothesis of loss-of-control eating has gained traction in the field of eating disorders. In particular, the neural process of food addiction plays a dominant role in the recently formulated “addictive appetite” model of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Nonetheless, several components of the food addiction hypothesis, including the presence of withdrawal and tolerance effects, as well as the proposition that some foods possess “addicting” properties, remain highly controversial. In response, the current review synthesises existing evidence for withdrawal and tolerance effects in people with bulimia nervosa. Recent findings: The recent development of a validated tool to measure withdrawal from highly processed foods will aid in measuring withdrawal symptoms and testing hypotheses related to withdrawal in the context of food addiction. We subsequently describe preclinical and human evidence for a central insulin- and dopamine-mediated pathway by which recurrent loss-of-control binge eating is maintained in bulimia nervosa. Summary: Evidence in populations with bulimia nervosa and loss-of-control eating provides preliminary support for the role of food addiction in the maintenance of bulimia nervosa. Future longitudinal research is needed to develop a clearer profile of illness progression and to clarify the extent to which dysregulation in glucose metabolism contributes to food craving and symptom maintenance in bulimia nervosa.