Do Restrictive and Bingeing/Purging Subtypes of Anorexia Nervosa Differ on Central Coherence and Set Shifting?


Correspondence: Sara Van Autreve, Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UZ Gent (1K12F), De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Gent, Belgium. Tel.: 0032 9 332 03 36; Fax: 0032 9 332 49 89.




Anorexia nervosa (AN) has been associated with weak central coherence (CC) and weak set shifting (SS). The main aim of this study was to examine possible differences between restrictive AN (AN-R) and bingeing/purging AN (AN-BP) on these features.


A total of 31 patients with AN-R, 20 patients with AN-BP and 26 healthy controls (HC) completed five neuropsychological tests (Block Design, Object Assembly, an adapted task-switching paradigm, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and Trail Making Test).


Using Block Design and Object Assembly, indicative for CC, AN-R patients performed significantly worse than AN-BP patients and HC, without any difference between AN-BP and HC. On SS measures, no group differences were observed.


The results suggest that cognitive profiles of AN-R and AN-BP patients differ significantly on CC and not on SS. Our current findings support the idea that the two subtypes of AN have a distinctive underlying nature and might need a different approach in cognitive remediation. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.