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      Is Disgust Proneness Associated With Anxiety and Related Disorders? A Qualitative Review and Meta-Analysis of Group Comparison and Correlational Studies

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          Research suggests that disgust may be linked to the etiology of some anxiety-related disorders. The present investigation reviews this literature and employs separate meta-analyses of clinical group comparison and correlational studies to examine the association between disgust proneness and anxiety-related disorder symptoms. Meta-analysis of 43 group comparison studies revealed those high in anxiety disorder symptoms reported significantly more disgust proneness than those low in anxiety symptoms. Although this effect was not moderated by clinical versus analogue studies or type of disorder, larger group differences were observed for those high in anxiety symptoms associated with contagion concerns compared to those high in anxiety symptoms not associated with contagion concerns. Similarly, meta-analysis of correlational data across 83 samples revealed moderate associations between disgust proneness and anxiety-related disorder symptoms. Moderator analysis revealed that the association between disgust proneness and anxiety-related disorder symptoms was especially robust for anxiety symptoms associated with contagion concerns. After controlling for measures of negative affect, disgust proneness continued to be moderately correlated with anxiety-related disorder symptoms. However, negative affect was no longer significantly associated with symptoms of anxiety-related disorders when controlling for disgust proneness. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of a novel transdiagnostic model.

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              Influential theories of human emotion argue that subjective feeling states involve representation of bodily responses elicited by emotional events. Within this framework, individual differences in intensity of emotional experience reflect variation in sensitivity to internal bodily responses. We measured regional brain activity by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an interoceptive task wherein subjects judged the timing of their own heartbeats. We observed enhanced activity in insula, somatomotor and cingulate cortices. In right anterior insular/opercular cortex, neural activity predicted subjects' accuracy in the heartbeat detection task. Furthermore, local gray matter volume in the same region correlated with both interoceptive accuracy and subjective ratings of visceral awareness. Indices of negative emotional experience correlated with interoceptive accuracy across subjects. These findings indicate that right anterior insula supports a representation of visceral responses accessible to awareness, providing a substrate for subjective feeling states.

                Author and article information

                Perspectives on Psychological Science
                Perspect Psychol Sci
                SAGE Publications
                July 2017
                June 26 2017
                July 2017
                : 12
                : 4
                : 613-648
                [1 ]Vanderbilt University
                [2 ]Whitman College
                [3 ]University of Indianapolis
                © 2017



                Quantitative & Systems biology,Biophysics
                Quantitative & Systems biology, Biophysics


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