The relation between symptoms of bulimia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder: A startle investigation
Altman, Sarah E.
Campbell, Miranda L.
Nelson, Brady D.
Faust, Julianne P.
Shankman, Stewart A.
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
MetadataShow full item record
Bulimia nervosa (bn) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (ocd) co-occur at greater rates than chance and may have shared mechanisms of dysfunction. One of these proposed mechanisms is a hyper-responsive aversive system as indicated by heightened startle response to aversive stimuli. The present study examined this hypothesis using two types of aversive stimuli: disorder specific (e.G., high-caloric food pictures for bn, contamination pictures for ocd) and non-disorder specific (e.G., knife). Temporal parameters of aversive responding were also examined by assessing startle response in anticipation of and following picture presentation. The sample consisted of 114 undergraduate females selected to have a broad range of bn and/or ocd symptomatology. Ocd symptoms were associated with increased startle potentiation during the anticipation and presentation of contamination pictures, and bn symptoms were associated with increased startle potentiation during disorder-related contamination pictures (e.G., sink, toilet). Bn symptoms were also associated with increased startle potentiation during and following the presentation of food pictures (though the former effect was only a trend). Additionally, the interaction of bn and ocd symptoms was associated with elevated startle responding during the presentation of contamination and threat stimuli. Overall, the present study provides evidence that bn and ocd symptoms are associated with heightened aversive responding to disorder-specific stimuli, and comorbid bn and ocd symptoms are associated with heightened aversive responding across disorder-specific and non-specific aversive stimuli. Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.