Comprehensive neurocognitive assessment of patients with anorexia nervosa

Andrea Phillipou, Caroline Gurvich, David Jonathan Castle, Larry Allen Abel, Susan Lee Rossell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


AIM: To utilise a comprehensive cognitive battery to gain a better understanding of cognitive performance in anorexia nervosa (AN). METHODS: Twenty-six individuals with AN and 27 healthy control participants matched for age, gender and premorbid intelligence, participated in the study. A standard cognitive battery, the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia Consensus Cognitive Battery, was used to investigate performance on seven cognitive domains with the use of 10 different tasks: speed of processing [Brief Assessment Of Cognition In Schizophrenia: Symbol Coding, Category Fluency: Animal Naming (Fluency) and Trail Making Test: Part A], attention/vigilance [Continuous Performance Test - Identical Pairs (CPT-IP)], working memory [Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS®-III): Spatial Span, and Letter-Number Span (LNS)], verbal learning [Hopkins Verbal Learning Test - Revised], visual learning [Brief Visuospatial Memory Test - Revised], reasoning and problem solving [Neuropsychological Assessment Battery: Mazes], and social cognition [Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test: Managing Emotions]. Statistical analyses involved the use of multivariate and univariate analyses of variance. RESULTS: Analyses conducted on the cognitive domain scores revealed no overall significant difference between groups nor any interaction between group and domain score [F(1,45) = 0.73, P = 0.649]. Analyses conducted on each of the specific tasks within the cognitive domains revealed significantly slower reaction times for false alarm responses on the CPT-IP task in AN [F(1,51) = 12.80, P < 0.01, Cohen’s d = 0.982] and a trend towards poorer performance in AN on the backward component of the WMS®-III Spatial Span task [F(1,51) = 5.88, P = 0.02, Cohen’s d = -0.665]. The finding of slower reaction times of false alarm responses is, however, limited due to the small number of false alarm responses for either group. CONCLUSION: The findings are discussed in terms of poorer capacity to manipulate and process visuospatial material in AN.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-411
Number of pages7
JournalWorld Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2015

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