Purpose Attention has recently been paid to Clinical Linguistics for the detection and support of clinical conditions. Many works have been published on the “linguistic profile” of various clinical populations, but very few papers have been devoted to linguistic changes in patients with eating disorders. Patients with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) share similar psychological features such as disturbances in self-perceived body image, inflexible and obsessive thinking and anxious or depressive traits. We hypothesize that these characteristics can result in altered linguistic patterns and be detected using the Natural Language Processing tools. Methods We enrolled 51 young participants from December 2019 to February 2020 (age range: 14–18): 17 girls with a clinical diagnosis of AN, and 34 normal-weighted peers, matched by gender, age and educational level. Participants in each group were asked to produce three written texts (around 10–15 lines long). A rich set of linguistic features was extracted from the text samples and the statistical significance in pinpointing the pathological process was measured. Results Comparison between the two groups showed several linguistics indexes as statistically significant, with syntactic reduction as the most relevant trait of AN productions. In particular, the following features emerge as statistically significant in distinguishing AN girls and their normal-weighted peers: the length of the sentences, the complexity of the noun phrase, and the global syntactic complexity. This peculiar pattern of linguistic erosion may be due to the severe metabolic impairment also affecting the central nervous system in AN. Conclusion These preliminary data showed the existence of linguistic parameters as probable linguistic markers of AN. However, the analysis of a bigger cohort, still ongoing, is needed to consolidate this assumption. Level of evidence III Evidence obtained from case–control analytic studies.

Linguistic feature of anorexia nervosa: a prospective case–control pilot study

Vittoria Cuteri;Gloria Gagliardi;Fabio Tamburini;Antonia Parmeggiani
2021

Abstract

Purpose Attention has recently been paid to Clinical Linguistics for the detection and support of clinical conditions. Many works have been published on the “linguistic profile” of various clinical populations, but very few papers have been devoted to linguistic changes in patients with eating disorders. Patients with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) share similar psychological features such as disturbances in self-perceived body image, inflexible and obsessive thinking and anxious or depressive traits. We hypothesize that these characteristics can result in altered linguistic patterns and be detected using the Natural Language Processing tools. Methods We enrolled 51 young participants from December 2019 to February 2020 (age range: 14–18): 17 girls with a clinical diagnosis of AN, and 34 normal-weighted peers, matched by gender, age and educational level. Participants in each group were asked to produce three written texts (around 10–15 lines long). A rich set of linguistic features was extracted from the text samples and the statistical significance in pinpointing the pathological process was measured. Results Comparison between the two groups showed several linguistics indexes as statistically significant, with syntactic reduction as the most relevant trait of AN productions. In particular, the following features emerge as statistically significant in distinguishing AN girls and their normal-weighted peers: the length of the sentences, the complexity of the noun phrase, and the global syntactic complexity. This peculiar pattern of linguistic erosion may be due to the severe metabolic impairment also affecting the central nervous system in AN. Conclusion These preliminary data showed the existence of linguistic parameters as probable linguistic markers of AN. However, the analysis of a bigger cohort, still ongoing, is needed to consolidate this assumption. Level of evidence III Evidence obtained from case–control analytic studies.
Vittoria Cuteri, Giulia Minori, Gloria Gagliardi, Fabio Tamburini, Elisabetta Malaspina, Paola Gualandi, Francesca Rossi, Milena Moscano, Valentina Francia, Antonia Parmeggiani
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/828833
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