Purpose: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is characterized by a diminished capacity in perceiving the physiological correlates of interoceptive sensations, namely bodily self-consciousness. Given the neural division of self-processing into interoceptive-, exteroceptive- and mental-self, we hypothesize neural deficits in the interoceptive-processing regions in AN. Methods: To prove this, we reviewed resting state (rs), task and rest-task studies in AN literature. Results: Neuronal data demonstrate the following in AN: (i) decreased rs-functional connectivity (rsFC) of subcortical–cortical midline structures (SCMS); (ii) reduced rsFC between medial (default-mode network/DMN and salience network/SN) and lateral (executive-control network/ECN) cortical regions; (iii) decreased rsFC in mainly the regions of the interoceptive-self; (iv) altered activity with overall increased activity in response to sensory/body image stimuli, especially in the regions of the interoceptive-self; (v) lack of a clear task-related distinction between own’s and others’ body image. Conclusion: These data may indicate that rs-hypoconnectivity between SCMS, as neural correlate of a reduced intero-exteroceptive integration resulting in self-objectification, might be linked to overall increased activity in interoceptive regions during sensory/body image stimuli in AN, engendering an “anxious bodily self.” Level of evidence: I: Systematic review.
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