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Out of control?: Inhibition processes in eating disorders from a personality and cognitive perspective




The present study examined the role of “a breakdown in inhibition” as a mechanism to explain differences in impulsivity between restrictive and bingeing/purging eating disorders (ED). Two types of inhibition (i.e., executive and reactive inhibition) were assessed by means of personality and neuropsychological tests.


Forty-eight female in patients with ED completed the Effortful Control Scale, the BISBAS scales, and a set of neuropsychological tests.


The results showed that executive inhibition measures were able to differentiate restrictive from bingeing/purging ED subtypes. Patients with ED and bingeing/purging behavior scored significantly lower on the Effortful Control Scale, needed more time to finish the Trail Making Test/STROOP, and showed more reaction time variability on the Go No-Go task. We did not find significant associations between personality and neuropsychological measures of executive/reactive inhibition.


Insight in the breakdown of inhibition in bingeing/purging patients can increase our understanding of impulse-control disorders and guide the development of tools to improve effortful control. © 2011 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)