Set-Shifting Among Adolescents With Bulimic Spectrum Eating Disorders

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Abstract

Objective

Set-shifting difficulties are observed among adults with bulimia nervosa (BN). This study aimed to assess whether adolescents with BN and BN spectrum eating disorders exhibit set-shifting problems relative to healthy controls.

Methods

Neurocognitive data from 23 adolescents with BN were compared with those from 31 adolescents with BN-type eating disorder not otherwise specified and 22 healthy controls on various measures of set-shifting (Trail Making Task [shift task], Color-Word Interference, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, and Brixton Spatial Anticipation Task).

Results

No significant differences in set-shifting tasks were found among groups (p >.35), and effect sizes were small (Cohen f < 0.17).

Conclusions

Cognitive inflexibility may develop over time because of the eating disorder, although it is possible that there is a subset of individuals in whom early neurocognitive difficulty may result in a longer illness trajectory. Future research should investigate the existence of neurocognitive taxons in larger samples and use longitudinal designs to fully explore biomarkers and illness effects.

Trial Registration

clinicaltrials.gov NCT00879151.

Abbreviations

BN = bulimia nervosa

Abbreviations

EDNOS-BN = BN-type eating disorder not otherwise specified

Abbreviations

HC = healthy control

Abbreviations

EDE = Eating Disorder Examination

Abbreviations

EDE-Q = EDE Questionnaire

Abbreviations

MBW = median body weight

Abbreviations

IQ = intelligence quotient

Abbreviations

WCST = Wisconsin Card Sorting Test

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