Behavioral and neural correlates of inhibitory control in subclinical and clinical disordered eating.
Eating disorders (EDs) are serious psychiatric conditions with negative consequences on physical and psychosocial domains, significantly impacting life expectancy. Despite the well-known heterogeneity in the clinical presentation of individuals with EDs, i.e. restrictive vs. binge-eating/purging types, the factors contributing to the development, maintenance, and clinical presentation of EDs remain poorly understood. Impairment of inhibitory control (IC) in EDs is suggested to play a key role in EDs symptomatology: binge-eating/purging types exhibit poor IC, which is associated with overall hypo-activity of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC), whereas restricting types show excessive IC and a corresponding hyperactivity of the rDLPFC. However, it is currently an open question to what extent impaired IC may causally contribute the development of EDs. To this end, the main objective of this project is to investigate whether cognitive and neural IC impairment already manifest itself at subclinical level, which is pivotal for early detection, and compare their characteristics with clinical correlates of IC. An additional objective is to determine whether high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) delivered over the DLPFC can lead to an improvement of IC and related eating behavior in a subclinical EDs population. Support for the latter may serve as input for the development of evidence-based tDCS protocols in prevention and treatment programs, leading to better therapy outcomes and a decline in the common relapse in EDs.