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1.  Neuroimaging studies of alexithymia: physical, affective, and social perspectives 
Alexithymia refers to difficulty in identifying and expressing one’s emotions, and it is related to disturbed emotional regulation. It was originally proposed as a personality trait that plays a central role in psychosomatic diseases. This review of neuroimaging studies on alexithymia suggests that alexithymia is associated with reduced neural responses to emotional stimuli from the external environment, as well as with reduced activity during imagery, in the limbic and paralimbic areas (i.e., amygdala, insula, anterior/posterior cingulate cortex). In contrast, alexithymia is also known to be associated with enhanced neural activity in somatosensory and sensorimotor regions, including the insula. Moreover, neural activity in the medial, prefrontal, and insula cortex was lowered when people with alexithymia were involved in social tasks. Because most neuroimaging studies have been based on sampling by self-reported questionnaires, the contrasted features of neural activities in response to internal and external emotional stimuli need to be elucidated. The social and emotional responses of people with alexithymia are discussed and recommendations for future research are presented.
PMCID: PMC3621096  PMID: 23537323
Alexithymia; fMRI; PET; Neuroimaging study; Interoception; Psychosomatic medicine; Emotional awareness
2.  Diurnal variation of tension-type headache intensity and exacerbation: An investigation using computerized ecological momentary assessment 
Tension-type headache is a common psychosomatic disease. However, diurnal variation of headache is yet to be clarified, perhaps due to the lack of an appropriate method to investigate it. Like other painful diseases, it would be helpful to know if there is diurnal variation in tension-type headaches, both for managing headaches and understanding their pathophysiology. The aim of this study was to determine if there is diurnal variation in the intensity and exacerbation of tension-type headache.
Patients (N = 31) with tension-type headache recorded for one week their momentary headache intensity several times a day and their acute headache exacerbations using a watch-type computer as an electronic diary (computerized ecological momentary assessment). Multilevel modeling was used to test the effects of time of day on momentary headache intensity and on the occurrence of acute exacerbations.
A significant diurnal variation in momentary headache intensity was shown (P = 0.0005), with the weakest headaches in the morning and a peak in the late afternoon. A between-individual difference in the diurnal pattern was suggested. On-demand medication use was associated with a different diurnal pattern (P = 0.025), suggesting that headache intensity decreases earlier in the evening in subjects who used on-demand medication, while headache subtype, prophylactic medication use, and sex were not associated with the difference. The occurrence of acute headache exacerbation also showed a significant diurnal variation, with a peak after noon (P = 0.0015).
Tension-type headache was shown to have a significant diurnal variation. The relation to pathophysiology and psychosocial aspects needs to be further explored.
PMCID: PMC3479012  PMID: 22943264
Tension-type headache; Ecological momentary assessment; Electronic diary; Diurnal variation
3.  Does sleep aggravate tension-type headache?: An investigation using computerized ecological momentary assessment and actigraphy 
Both insufficient sleep and oversleeping have been reported as precipitating and aggravating factors of tension-type headache (TTH). However, previous studies relied on recalled self-reports, and the relationship has not been confirmed prospectively and objectively in a daily life situation. Recently, ecological momentary assessment (EMA) using electronic diaries, i.e., computerized EMA, is used to record subjective symptoms with the advantages of avoiding recall bias and faked compliance in daily settings. In addition, actigraphy has become an established method to assess sleep outside laboratories. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the within-individual effect of sleep on the following momentary headache intensity in TTH patients during their daily lives utilizing EMA and actigraphy.
Twenty-seven patients with TTH wore watch-type computers as electronic diaries for seven consecutive days and recorded their momentary headache intensity using a visual analog scale of 0-100 approximately every six hours, on waking up, when going to bed, and at the time of headache exacerbations. They also recorded their self-report of sleep quality, hours of sleep and number of awakenings with the computers when they woke up. Physical activity was continuously recorded by an actigraph inside the watch-type computers. Activity data were analyzed by Cole's algorithm to obtain total sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, wake time after sleep onset and number of awakenings for each night. Multilevel modeling was used to test the effect of each subjective and objective sleep-related variable on momentary headache intensity on the following day.
Objectively measured total sleep time was significantly positively associated with momentary headache intensity on the following day, while self-reported sleep quality was significantly negatively associated with momentary headache intensity on the following day.
Using computerized EMA and actigraphy, longer sleep and worse sleep quality were shown to be related to more intense headache intensity on within-individual basis and they may be precipitating or aggravating factors of TTH.
PMCID: PMC3163177  PMID: 21835045
4.  The reliability and validity of the Japanese version of the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS-J) 
The Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS) was developed to assess five levels of emotional awareness: bodily sensations, action tendencies, single emotions, blends of emotion, and combinations of blends. It is a paper and pencil performance questionnaire that presents 20 emotion-evoking scenes. We developed a Japanese version of the LEAS (LEAS-J), and its reliability and validity were examined.
The LEAS-J level was independently assessed by two researchers who scored each response according to the LEAS scoring manual. High inter-rater reliability and internal consistency were obtained for the LEAS-J. Measures were socioeconomic status, LEAS-J, Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20), Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). TAS-20, IRI and NEO-FFI were the measures used to explore the construct validity of LEAS-J, as it was predicted that higher scores on the LEAS-J would be related to fewer alexithymic features, greater empathetic ability, and a greater sense of cooperation with others. Questionnaires were completed by 344 university students.
The criterion-referenced validity was determined: a significant negative relationship was found with the externally-oriented thinking scores of TAS-20, and positive relationships were found with fantasy, perspective taking, and empathic concern on IRI and with extraversion, openness to experience, and agreeableness on NEO-FFI.
Consistent with our expectations, the findings provide evidence that the LEAS-J has good reliability and validity. In addition, women had significantly higher scores than men on LEAS-J, showing that the gender difference identified in the original LEAS was cross-culturally consistent.
PMCID: PMC3042374  PMID: 21281491
5.  Validity issues in the assessment of alexithymia related to the developmental stages of emotional cognition and language 
We examined developmental aspects of the emotional awareness of adolescents by evaluating their responses to a self-reported questionnaire based on the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20).
The items of the TAS-20 were modified to make them more understandable by adolescents, and nine new items related to a limited capacity for imagination were added. The Japanese Linguistic Ability Test and the multi-dimensional empathy scale for adolescents were administered to examine concurrent validity. Two hundred and two normative young adolescents and thirty-two adolescent patients with psychosomatic and/or behavioral problems participated in the study. Eighty junior high school students also participated in a separate examination of test-retest reliability.
Thirteen items were extracted after exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, and four core factors were identified in the resulting scale: Difficulty Identifying Feelings (DIF), Difficulty Describing Feelings (DDF), Externally-Oriented Thinking (EOT) and Constricted Imaginal Capacities (CIC). Interestingly, scores on the multi-dimensional empathy scale correlated positively with DIF and DDF, but negatively with EOT and CIC. Higher DDF scores were associated with higher Japanese linguistic abilities. DIF/DDF scores were higher for females than males, irrespective of linguistic ability. Test-retest reliability coefficients were significant. The patient group showed significantly higher DIF scores than the normative students.
The present findings indicated that subjective difficulties in identifying and describing feelings are associated with empathetic and linguistic abilities. The developmental aspect to emotional awareness herein described suggests that self-reported questionnaires for alexithymia must be carefully constructed and examined, even for adults.
PMCID: PMC2777913  PMID: 19886981
6.  Prospects of Psychosomatic Medicine 
PMCID: PMC2642858  PMID: 19161633
7.  Psychological and weight-related characteristics of patients with anorexia nervosa-restricting type who later develop bulimia nervosa 
Patients with anorexia nervosa-restricting type (AN-R) sometimes develop accompanying bulimic symptoms or the full syndrome of bulimia nervosa (BN). If clinicians could predict who might change into the bulimic sub-type or BN, preventative steps could be taken. Therefore, we investigated anthropometric and psychological factors possibly associated with such changes.
All participants were from a study by the Japanese Genetic Research Group for Eating Disorders. Of 80 patients initially diagnosed with AN-R, 22 changed to the AN-Binge Eating/Purging Type (AN-BP) and 14 to BN for some period of time. The remaining 44 patients remained AN-R only from the onset to the investigation period. Variables compared by ANOVA included anthropometric measures, personality traits such as Multiple Perfectionism Scale scores and Temperament and Character Inventory scores, and Beck Depression Inventory-II scores.
In comparison with AN-R only patients, those who developed BN had significantly higher current BMI (p < 0.05) and maximum BMI in the past (p < 0.05). They also scored significantly higher for the psychological characteristic of parental criticism (p < 0.05) and lower in self-directedness (p < 0.05), which confirms previous reports, but these differences disappeared when the depression score was used as a co-variant. No significant differences were obtained for personality traits or depression among the AN-R only patients irrespective of their duration of illness.
The present findings suggest a tendency toward obesity among patients who cross over from AN-R to BN. Low self-directedness and high parental criticism may be associated with the development of BN by patients with AN-R, although the differences may also be associated with depression.
PMCID: PMC2275291  PMID: 18267038
8.  Age and gender effect on alexithymia in large, Japanese community and clinical samples: a cross-validation study of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) 
The construct validity of alexithymia and its assessment using the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) in Japan is unknown. Low reliability has been found for the third factor of the TAS-20 in some cultures, and the factor structure for psychosomatic disorder patients has not been adequately investigated. Although alexithymia most likely has certain developmental aspects, this has infrequently been investigated.
The newly-developed Japanese TAS-20 was administered to a normative sample (n = 2,718; 14–84 y.o.), along with the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) for cross validation. Psychosomatic patients (n = 1,924, 12–87 y.o.) were tested to evaluate the factor structure in a clinical sample. College students (n = 196) were used for a test-retest study. Internal reliability and consistency were assessed, and the factorial structure was evaluated using confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses for both the normative and the clinical samples. The correlations between the TAS-20 and the NEO-FFI factor scores were evaluated. Age-related and gender differences in the TAS-20 were explored using analysis of variance in the normative sample.
The original three-factor model of the TAS-20 was confirmed to be valid for these Japanese samples, although a 4-factor solution that included negatively keyed items (NKI) as an additional factor was more effective. Significant correlations of the TAS-20 with the NEO-FFI were found, as has been previously reported. Factor analyses of the normative and patient samples showed similar patterns. The TAS-20 total, difficulty in identifying feelings (DIF), and difficulty in describing feelings (DDF) scores were high for teenagers, decreased with age, and from 30s did not change significantly. In contrast, externally oriented thinking (EOT) scores showed an almost linear positive correlation with age. DIF scores were higher for females, while EOT scores were higher for males, without any interaction between gender and age differences.
The original three-factor concept of the TAS-20 was generally supported for practical use. Age-related differences in TAS-20 scores indicate developmental aspects of alexithymia. Alexithymia is made up of two components with different developmental paths: DIF/DDF and EOT.
PMCID: PMC1838425  PMID: 17371586

Results 1-8 (8)