Alexithymic Trait and Voluntary Control in Healthy Adults

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Background: Alexithymia is a personality trait characterized by deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions. Recent studies have revealed that alexithymia is associated with less activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region shown to play a role in cognitive and emotional processing. However, few studies have directly investigated the cognitive domain in relation to alexithymia to examine whether alexithymic trait is related to less efficient voluntary control. Methodology/ Principal Findings: We examined the relationship between alexithymic trait and voluntary control in a group of healthy volunteers. We used the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) to measure alexithymic trait. Additionally, we examined state and trait voluntary control using the revised Attention Network Test (ANT-R) and the Adult Temperament Questionnaire (ATQ), respectively. Alexithymic trait was positively correlated with the overall reaction time of the ANT-R, and negatively correlated with the Effortful Control factor of the ATQ. Conclusions/Significance: Our results suggest that alexithymic trait is associated with less efficient voluntary control.

Gu X, Liu X, Guise KG, Fossella J, Wang K, et al. (2008) Alexithymic Trait and Voluntary Control in Healthy Adults. PLoS ONE 3(11): e3702. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0003702