Autistic traits impact on olfactory processing in adolescent girls with Anorexia Nervosa restricting type

Alessandro Tonacci, Sara Calderoni, Lucia Billeci, Sandra Maestro, Pamela Fantozzi, Federica Ciuccoli, Maria Aurora Morales, Antonio Narzisi, Filippo Muratori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The correct functioning of the chemosensory pathway is pivotal for the attitude towards feeding. In some neuropsychiatric disorders, abnormalities of the sensory processing dramatically affect feeding behavior; however, evidences for an olfactory involvement in Anorexia Nervosa (AN) are still controversial. We administered a complete olfactory testing battery, the Sniffin’ Sticks Extended Test, to a cohort of 19 girls with Restrictive Anorexia Nervosa (AN-R) and 19 healthy controls. A battery of questionnaires aiming to evaluate eating attitude, psychopathologic disorders and autistic traits was also administered. No difference was found between the two groups in any of the olfactory tasks. Despite the lack of correlation between olfaction and disease severity, however, olfactory performances were related to autistic traits in anorectic girls (r = −0.489, p = 0.039). Girls with AN-R do not appear to have an impaired olfactory function with respect to controls. However, a possible correlation between olfactory ability and autistic traits was discovered. In light of such findings, the role of possible relations between social functioning-related features and olfactory processing in AN-R is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Eating disorder
  • Olfaction
  • Olfaction disorders
  • Psychophysics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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