An examination of the concept of central coherence in women with anorexia nervosa




To examine central coherence (local and global processing) in women with anorexia nervosa (AN).


42 women with AN and 42 healthy women (HC) completed neuropsychological testing measuring visuospatial and verbal aspects of central coherence: Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure (RCFT), Embedded Figures Test (EFT), Homograph Reading Test (HRT), and Sentence Completion Task (SCT).


People with AN displayed superior performance on the EFT and poorer performance in RCFT with the exception of accuracy in the copy trial. Long hesitations in the SCT were observed. Verbal coherence tasks were not sensitive enough to detect coherence anomalies in AN.


Women with AN have strengths in tasks requiring local processing (EFT) and weaknesses on tasks benefited by global processing (RCFT and SCT). These results are consistent with the weak central coherence account. This trait might play a role in the maintenance of AN and can be addressed in specific clinical interventions. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008