Cognitive flexibility in verbal and nonverbal domains and decision making in anorexia nervosa patients: A pilot study

Giovanni Abbate-Daga, Sara Buzzichelli, Federico Amianto, Giuseppe Rocca, Enrica Marzola, Shawn M. McClintock, Secondo Fassino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Background: This paper aimed to investigate cognitive rigidity and decision making impairments in patients diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa Restrictive type (AN-R), assessing also verbal components.Methods: Thirty patients with AN-R were compared with thirty age-matched healthy controls (HC). All participants completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery comprised of the Trail Making Test, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Hayling Sentence Completion Task, and the Iowa Gambling Task. The Beck Depression Inventory was administered to evaluate depressive symptomatology. The influence of both illness duration and neuropsychological variables was considered. Body Mass Index (BMI), years of education, and depression severity were considered as covariates in statistical analyses. Results: The AN-R group showed poorer performance on all neuropsychological tests. There was a positive correlation between illness duration and the Hayling Sentence Completion Task Net score, and number of completion answers in part B. There was a partial effect of years of education and BMI on neuropsychological test performance. Response inhibition processes and verbal fluency impairment were not associated with BMI and years of education, but were associated with depression severity.Conclusions: These data provide evidence that patients with AN-R have cognitive rigidity in both verbal and non-verbal domains. The role of the impairment on verbal domains should be considered in treatment. Further research is warranted to better understand the relationship between illness state and cognitive rigidity and impaired decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number162
JournalBMC Psychiatry
StatePublished - Oct 7 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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