Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society



Cognitive flexibility in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa


KATE  TCHANTURIA  a1 c1 , MARIJA BRECELJ  ANDERLUH  a1 , ROBIN G.  MORRIS  a2 , SOPHIA  RABE-HESKETH  a3 , DAVID A.  COLLIER  a4 , PATRICIA  SANCHEZ  a1 and JANET L.  TREASURE  a1
a1 Division of Psychological Medicine, Eating Disorders Research Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, De Crespigny Park, London, UK
a2 Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
a3 Department of Biostatistics and Computing, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, De Crespigny Park, London, UK
a4 Division of Psychological Medicine and Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, De Crespigny Park, London, UK

Article author query
tchanturia k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
anderluh mb   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
morris rg   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
rabe-hesketh s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
collier da   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sanchez p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
treasure jl   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine if there are differences in cognitive flexibility in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Fifty-three patients with an eating disorder (34 with anorexia nervosa and 19 with bulimia nervosa) and 35 healthy controls participated in the study. A battery of neuropsychological tests for cognitive flexibility was used, including Trail Making B, the Brixton Test, Verbal Fluency, the Haptic Illusion Test, a cognitive shifting task (CatBat) and a picture set test. Using exploratory factor analysis, four factors were obtained: 1: Simple Alternation; 2: Mental Flexibility; 3: Perseveration; and 4: Perceptual Shift. Patients with anorexia nervosa had abnormal scores on Factors 1 and 4. Patients with bulimia nervosa showed a different pattern, with significant impairments in Factors 2 and 4. These findings suggest that differential neuropsychological disturbance in the domain of mental flexibility/rigidity may underlie the spectrum of eating disorders. (JINS, 2004, 10, 513–520.)

(Received December 30 2002)
(Revised October 9 2003)
(Accepted November 10 2003)


Key Words: Anorexia; Bulimia; Set-shifting; Cognition; Mental flexibility.

Correspondence:
c1 Reprint requests to: Kate Tchanturia, P059 Eating Disorders Research Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, University of London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK. E-mail: spjeket@iop.kcl.ac.uk