National Institute of Mental Health,
National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Japan
1. Determination of the pathology of psychosomatic diseases and the development of effective treatmen
Interactions between central or peripheral biological disturbances and psychosocial factors such as stress, emotion, cognition, behavior, and life style are involved in the etiology and maintenance of psychosomatic diseases (PSD) as well as eating disorders (EDs). Currently, any assessment of the mind–body interaction and diagnosis of PSD is primarily conducted by an interview or questionnaire. More objective and scientific methods for the assessment of mind–body interaction and diagnostic procedures are required for clinical and research purposes.
1-1. Development of a multidimensional assessment method of psychological stress in daily settings
Capturing a temporal course of psychological stress is essential when assessing PSD. We are developing method to assess psychological stress in daily settings, which is ecologically valid, temporally precise, and multidimensional.
1-2. Development of cognitive behavioral treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Functional gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS and functional dyspepsia are common psychosomatic disorders that have very high prevalence rates and run a chronic course. In addition, they have a large impact on quality of life and place an enormous burden on medical resources. We have developed a cognitine behavioral treatment (CBT) for IBS.
2. Studies on the pathology and epidemiology of EDs
2-1. Study of biological markers of EDs
Although various biological abnormalities are observed in patients with EDs, most of them reflect secondary impairments due to malnutrition or abnormal eating behavior. No biological marker specific to EDs has been established.
2-2. Functional imaging study of EDs: Assessment of one's self through comparison with others
Distorted evaluation of one's body shape is a central psychopathology in EDs, and body dissatisfaction is a possible predictive factor for developing EDs. We are conducting a functional MR imaging study (fMRI) for body shape comparison.
2-3. Epidemiological studies concerning eating disorders
An alarming increase in the number of teenagers with EDs has been reported in Japan. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of EDs. We conducted a survey using an eating disorder questionnaire (EDE-Q) and another questionnaire on risk factors for EDs in 6000 junior high school students. As a result, the frequency of EDs was estimated to be 1.9% among girls and 0.2% among boys. In addition, a traumatic sexual experience was identified as a risk factor for purging behavior.
3. Studies on psychosomatic relationship using ambulatory assessments
3-1. Comprehensive understanding of temporal relationships between eating behavior and biopsychosocial factors
We are investigating temporal relationships between eating behavior and biopsychosocial factors based on ecologically valid and nutritionally precise data using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and a personal digital assistant-based food diary.
3-2. Memory of subjective symptoms and methodological issues in the assessment of subjective symptoms
In collaboration with Prof. Yoshiharu Yamamoto at the Graduate School of Education, the University of Tokyo, we are investigating memory properties of subjective symptoms and discussing methodological issues related to the assessment of subjective symptoms using the day reconstruction method and EMA.
4. Other Studies
Alexithymia: We have found several subgroups with different personality characteristics in the highly alexithymic group rated by the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20).
© 2011 Department of Psychosomatic Research.