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Cognitive impairment in eating disorder patients of short and long-term duration: a case–control study

Authors Grau A, Magallón-Neri E, Faus G, Feixas G

Received 30 December 2018

Accepted for publication 11 March 2019

Published 21 May 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 1329—1341


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Antoni Grau,1,2 Ernesto Magallón-Neri,3,4 Gustavo Faus,1,2 Guillem Feixas3,4

1ITA Mental Health Specialist, Madrid, Spain; 2ITA Foundation, Barcelona, Spain; 3Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; 4Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Introduction: Several studies have noted the potentially negative effect of eating disorders (ED) on cognitive performance.
Objective: To compare the impact of the duration of abnormal eating behaviors on cognitive performance in a sample of people with short- and long-term eating disorders and in two control groups matched for age.
Method: The neuropsychological performance of 82 women diagnosed with an eating disorder were compared with two control groups from the community of 66 healthy women. Time of duration of the disorder was less than two years in half of the clinical sample, and more than 10 years in the other half. The following instruments were used to measure neuropsychological performance: the Matrix Test, the Stroop task, the Trail-Making Test, the Tower of London Test, the Posner Spatial Task, the Rey’s Complex Figure, the Wechsler Vocabulary Test, and the Hayling Completion Test.
Results: It showed that persons with long-term ED presented more impaired neuropsychological profiles, but not in all areas. In contrast, the short-term ED group presented similar profiles to the control groups.
Discussion: This study highlights the positive association between cognitive impairment and time of evolution of ED, above all in perceptual measures and non-verbal memory. Considering the effect of the evolution of ED cognitive performance (especially in long-term patients) may further our understanding of the development of the disorder and the factors that may favor its persistence.

Keywords: eating disorder, cognitive impairment, long-duration ED

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