SELECTIVE MEMORY BIAS IN WOMEN WITH BULIMIA NERVOSA AND WOMEN WITH DEPRESSION
Memory bias for weight and shape, and for food related words, was investigated in women with bulimia nervosa (12), women with depression (12) and female nonclinical controls (18). The aim of this study was to investigate whether women with bulimia nervosa demonstrate memory biases congruent with their primary concerns. Participants listened to target and control words. They performed a self-referent encoding task and recall memory was assessed. The results indicated that women with bulimia nervosa demonstrated a bias to recall positive and negative weight and shape related words compared to emotional words, but not compared to neutral nouns and body words. Memory biases for food related words were not found to be specific to women with bulimia nervosa, but were also found in women with depression. Contrary to previous research the recall bias for food related words was related to levels of hunger, in both groups. The findings provide partial support for memory biases for weight and shape, but not food related information in bulimia nervosa. These findings and their implications for existing research on information processing in eating disorders are discussed.
Key Words: Memory; primary concerns; bulimia nervosa; depression.
c1 Request for reprints to Jenny Hunt, Clinical Psychologist, St Andrew's Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton NN1 5DG, U.K.