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Riva G.,Applied Technology for Neuro Psychology Laboratory
Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology | Year: 2011

Obesity and eating disorders are usually considered unrelated problems with different causes. However, various studies identify unhealthful weight-control behaviors (fasting, vomiting, or laxative abuse), induced by a negative experience of the body, as the common antecedents of both obesity and eating disorders. But how might negative body image - common to most adolescents, not only to medical patients - be behind the development of obesity and eating disorders? In this paper, I review the "allocentric lock theory" of negative body image as the possible antecedent of both obesity and eating disorders. Evidence from psychology and neuroscience indicates that our bodily experience involves the integration of different sensory inputs within two different reference frames: egocentric (first-person experience) and allocentric (third-person experience). Even though functional relations between these two frames are usually limited, they influence each other during the interaction between long- and short-term memory processes in spatial cognition. If this process is impaired either through exogenous (e.g., stress) or endogenous causes, the egocentric sensory inputs are unable to update the contents of the stored allocentric representation of the body. In other words, these patients are locked in an allocentric (observer view) negative image of their body, which their sensory inputs are no longer able to update even after a demanding diet and a significant weight loss. This article discusses the possible role of virtual reality in addressing this problem within an integrated treatment approach based on the allocentric lock theory. © Diabetes Technology Society.

Grassi A.,Applied Technology for Neuro Psychology Laboratory
Studies in health technology and informatics | Year: 2011

A Stress Inoculation Training-based protocol tested if multimedia audio-video content induced emotional changes and reduced exam anxiety in university students. Seventy-five participants took part in six experimental sessions consisting of viewing multimedia content and performing relaxation exercises. Participants were randomly assigned to five experimental groups: 1) audio and video narrative on mobile phone (UMTS); 2) audio and video narrative on DVD (DVD), 3) audio narrative on MP3 player (M3), 4) audio narrative on CD (CD), 5) control group (CTRL). Results showed that audio/video content induced a significant reduction in exam anxiety and an increase of relaxation in students, compared to the audio-only contents.

Raspelli S.,Applied Technology for Neuro Psychology Laboratory
Studies in health technology and informatics | Year: 2011

The purpose of this study was to establish ecological validity and initial construct validity of the Virtual Reality (VR) version of the Multiple Errands Test (MET) (Shallice & Burgess, 1991; Fortin et al., 2003) based on the NeuroVR software as an assessment tool for executive functions. In particular, the MET is an assessment of executive functions in daily life, which consists of tasks that abide by certain rules and is performed in a shopping mall-like setting where items need to be bought and information needs to be obtained. The study population included three groups: post-stroke participants (n = 5), healthy, young participants (n = 5), and healthy, older participants (n = 5). Specific objectives were (1) to examine the relationships between the performance of three groups of participants in the Virtual Multiple Errands Test (VMET) and at the traditional neuropsychological tests employed to assess executive functions and (2) to compare the performance of post-stroke participants to those of healthy, young controls and older controls in the VMET and at the traditional neuropsychological tests employed to assess executive functions.

Riva G.,Applied Technology for Neuro Psychology Laboratory | Riva G.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart | Gaudio S.,Biomedical University of Rome
Medical Hypotheses | Year: 2012

Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) have a disturbance in the way in which their body is experienced and tend to evaluate negatively their own body and body parts. It is controversial whether these symptoms are secondary to dysfunctions in the neuronal processes related to appetite and emotional regulation or reflect a primary disturbance in the way the body is experienced and remembered.According to the "Allocentric Lock Hypothesis - ALH" (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2011.10.039) individuals with AN may be locked to an allocentric (observer view) negative memory of the body that is no more updated by contrasting egocentric representations driven by perception. Recent neuroimaging studies are showing several structural and functional alterations in frame- and memory-related body-image-processing brain circuits that may support ALH. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Riva G.,Applied Technology for Neuro Psychology Laboratory | Riva G.,Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Clinical psychology is starting to explain eating disorders (ED) as the outcome of the interaction among cognitive, socio-emotional and interpersonal elements. In particular two influential models-the revised cognitive-interpersonal maintenance model and the transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral theory-identified possible key predisposing and maintaining factors. These models, even if very influential and able to provide clear suggestions for therapy, still are not able to provide answers to several critical questions: why do not all the individuals with obsessive compulsive features, anxious avoidance or with a dysfunctional scheme for self-evaluation develop an ED? What is the role of the body experience in the etiology of these disorders? In this paper we suggest that the path to a meaningful answer requires the integration of these models with the recent outcomes of cognitive neuroscience. First, our bodily representations are not just a way to map an external space but the main tool we use to generate meaning, organize our experience, and shape our social identity. In particular, we will argue that our bodily experience evolves over time by integrating six different representations of the body characterized by specific pathologies-body schema (phantom limb), spatial body (unilateral hemi-neglect), active body (alien hand syndrome), personal body (autoscopic phenomena), objectified body (xenomelia) and body image (body dysmorphia). Second, these representations include either schematic (allocentric) or perceptual (egocentric) contents that interact within the working memory of the individual through the alignment between the retrieved contents from long-term memory and the ongoing egocentric contents from perception. In this view EDs may be the outcome of an impairment in the ability of updating a negative body representation stored in autobiographical memory (allocentric) with real-time sensorimotor and proprioceptive data (egocentric). © 2014 Riva.

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