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Keywords:

  • fear conditioning;
  • anorexia nervosa;
  • novel paradigms

Abstract

Although eating disorders have been the focus of an unprecedented explosion of clinical interest in recent years, the etiology of anorexia nervosa remains elusive. It is hypothesized that an underlying causative mechanism involves a propensity to extreme fear conditioning and greater than normal resistance to its extinction. Knowledge accrued from recent behavioral, genetic, and neuroanatomic research on anxiety may yield further insight into the pathogenesis of anorexia nervosa, which can be subjected to experimental validation using objective measures of classical fear conditioning and functional neuroimaging of brain structures mediating fear behavior. © 2004 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 35: 504–508, 2004.