School of Psychological Science

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Jessica Moncrieff-Boyd

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Jessica Moncrieff-Boyd


Disgust Sensitivity and Self-Disgust in Anorexia Nervosa: Potential Implications for Insular Dysfunction


This PhD research project will investigate the possibility of abnormal experiences of disgust in Anorexia Nervosa as a potential indicator of dysfunction in the insular region of the brain. Anorexia Nervosa is a specific eating disorder that involves a failure to maintain a healthy body weight and an intense fear of weight gain, accompanied by a distorted sense of weight and shape. Exaggerated experiences of disgust appear prominent in Anorexia Nervosa presentation, with sufferers of the disorder also demonstrating high levels of disgust towards the self and their bodies. The initial study will investigate disgust sensitivity and self-disgust among a clinical Anorexia Nervosa sample. The second study will use an Implicit Association Task in order to investigate associations between disgust and the self in a high Anorexia Nervosa-trait sample. Following studies will focus on the possibility of physiological responses to the self that are characteristic of disgust (such as parasympathetic activation). Such findings would provide further support for the presence of abnormal disgust experiences and self-disgust in Anorexia Nervosa, as well as implicating specific brain regions (i.e. the insular cortex).

Why my research is important

This study will be one of the first to lend itself to an exploration of the insular hypothesis of Anorexia Nervosa, which implicates dysfunction in the insular cortex as a central risk factor for the development and maintenance of the disorder. It is hoped that continued investigation of potential aetiological pathways of Anorexia Nervosa may assist in gaining greater understanding of this complex and refractory disorder.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award


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Friday, 23 January, 2015 3:27 PM