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The alexithymic brain: the neural pathways linking alexithymia to physical disorders

Overview of attention for article published in BioPsychoSocial Medicine, January 2013
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2 Google+ users

Citations

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156 Mendeley
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Title
The alexithymic brain: the neural pathways linking alexithymia to physical disorders
Published in
BioPsychoSocial Medicine, January 2013
DOI 10.1186/1751-0759-7-1
Pubmed ID
Authors

Michiko Kano, Shin Fukudo

Abstract

Alexithymia is a personality trait characterized by difficulties in identifying and describing feelings and is associated with psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders. The mechanisms underlying the link between emotional dysregulation and psychosomatic disorders are unclear. Recent progress in neuroimaging has provided important information regarding emotional experience in alexithymia. We have conducted three brain imaging studies on alexithymia, which we describe herein. This article considers the role of emotion in the development of physical symptoms and discusses a possible pathway that we have identified in our neuroimaging studies linking alexithymia with psychosomatic disorders. In terms of socio-affective processing, alexithymics demonstrate lower reactivity in brain regions associated with emotion. Many studies have reported reduced activation in limbic areas (e.g., cingulate cortex, anterior insula, amygdala) and the prefrontal cortex when alexithymics attempt to feel other people's feelings or retrieve their own emotional episodes, compared to nonalexithymics. With respect to primitive emotional reactions such as the response to pain, alexithymics show amplified activity in areas considered to be involved in physical sensation. In addition to greater hormonal arousal responses in alexithymics during visceral pain, increased activity has been reported in the insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and midbrain. Moreover, in complex social situations, alexithymics may not be able to use feelings to guide their behavior appropriately. The Iowa gambling task (IGT) was developed to assess decision-making processes based on emotion-guided evaluation. When alexithymics perform the IGT, they fail to learn an advantageous decision-making strategy and show reduced activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a key area for successful performance of the IGT, and increased activity in the caudate, a region associated with impulsive choice. The neural machinery in alexithymia is therefore activated more on the physiologic, motor-expressive level and less in the cognitive-experiential domains of the emotional response system. Affects may play an important role in alleviating intrinsic physiologic reactions and adapting to the environment. Deficient development of emotional neural structures may lead to hypersensitivity to bodily sensations and unhealthy behaviors, a possible mechanism linking alexithymia to psychosomatic disorders.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 156 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 2 1%
Taiwan 1 <1%
Austria 1 <1%
Australia 1 <1%
Ireland 1 <1%
Belgium 1 <1%
Japan 1 <1%
Germany 1 <1%
Poland 1 <1%
Other 0 0%
Unknown 146 94%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 34 22%
Student > Ph. D. Student 33 21%
Researcher 19 12%
Student > Bachelor 15 10%
Student > Postgraduate 12 8%
Other 29 19%
Unknown 14 9%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 88 56%
Medicine and Dentistry 22 14%
Neuroscience 15 10%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 4 3%
Social Sciences 3 2%
Other 7 4%
Unknown 17 11%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 4. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 12 February 2014.
All research outputs
#2,210,314
of 8,757,125 outputs
Outputs from BioPsychoSocial Medicine
#71
of 182 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#84,148
of 299,859 outputs
Outputs of similar age from BioPsychoSocial Medicine
#3
of 6 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 8,757,125 research outputs across all sources so far. This one has received more attention than most of these and is in the 74th percentile.
So far Altmetric has tracked 182 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a little more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 5.0. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 60% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 299,859 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 71% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 6 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than 3 of them.