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The aims of this study include further characterizing possible subtypes of alexithymia and their clinical relevance. Further, the etiology of alexithymia is largely unknown, but exposure to childhood emotional neglect has been reported to account for 13% of the variance in TAS-20 scores (Aust et al. 2013). We therefore also aim at further clarifying the effects of childhood adversity in the development of alexithymic traits. Genetics and epigenetics likely also play an important role in the risk for alexithymia. We therefore aim to collaborate with the FinnBrain genetic and epigenetic substudies and utilize the already collected DNA samples obtained in FinnBrain. Moreover, as alexithymia has been associated with increased risks for several somatic conditions, we will analyze how alexithymic traits may associate with pregnancy and delivery complications as well as neonatal outcomes. In addition, the aim is to follow the children and assess whether parental alexithymic traits may predispose the offspring to aberrations in neurocognitive development or emotion or self-regulation capacities. As a separate aim within the adult high-alexithymic population with concomitant psychiatric symptomatology, the objective is to design and conduct an intervention study with intranasally administered oxytocin. As another separate topic, we plan to study the association of current SSRI use and affect awareness, as measured by TAS-20 subscale DIF.

Study group:
Hasse Karlsson, Professor,
Max Karukivi, Adj. Prof.,
Noora Scheinin, MD, PhD,
Jani Kajanoja, MD, PhD student,
Hanna Ahrnberg, MHSc, MD, PhD student,