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Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is an eating disorder characterized by low body weight, fear of gaining weight and distorted perception of body. Patients have rigidity, repetition of thoughts, alterations in decision-making skills and poor ability to provide new solutions. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a new eating disorder characterized by the absence of distress about body shape or fear of weight gain. Studies on neurocognitive aspects are few and no effective treatments are known.
The aim of our study was to further investigate the executive functions’ domains in AN and ARFID children and adolescents, to provide possible distinct neurocognitive traits in these patients.
AN or ARFID patients (15 + 15; range 6-18 years), were assessed by neuropsychological tools, such as: Wechsler Intelligence Scale to measure I.Q. profile, NEPSY-II to explore attention and executive functions, Tower of London test to detect planning and problem solving abilities, the Bells Test to evaluate visual selective and focused attention, the Wisconsing Card Sorting Test (WCST) for assessment of flexibility and directing behaviors by achieving a goal and the Rey-Osterrieth complex figure test (ROCF) to assess visual-spatial abilities.
Patients with ARFID presented impairments in several executive functions domains, with difficulties in the impulse inhibition, in the sustained attention and in visual-spatial skills. Finally, in their anamnesis a higher comorbidity with neurodevelopmental disorders such as specific learning disorder has been underlined.
The identification of specific deficit in neuropsychological profile of ARFID patients could be a rehabilitation target, together with standardized treatment.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) are two primary restrictive eating disorders described in DSM-5, characterized both of them by insufficient food intake. This behavior In ARFID is not driven by weight and shape concerns that tipify AN. While there are several studies that highlight the presence of mentalizing difficulties in AN, there are still no data about mentalizing profile in ARFID.
The aim of this study was to better characterize the mentalizing profile of AN and ARFID children and adolescent.
Two groups of AN or ARFID outpatients (15+15), aged 6 to 18 years, were assessed by Alexythimia Questionnaire for Children (AQC) and Toronto Alexythimia Scale-20 (TAS-20) to evaluate alexythimia; by Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) and Basic Empathy Scale (BES) to assess empathy; by NEPSY-II social perception subtests to evaluate Theory of Mind and Emotion recognition. Exclusion criteria were the presence of intellectual disability, pervasive developmental disorders and binge eating behavior (eating disorder other than AN or ARFID).
Preliminary results showed different mentalizing profiles between ARFID and AN patients, with differences in the score for affective empathy, lower in ARFID than in AN patients while the score for alexythimia traits resulted higher in AN population.
By our results, mentalization impairment appeared trans-diagnostic across several eating disorders. This first result should be further improved to better analyze this construct in order to develop effective clinical intervention to improve the subject’s affective regulation.
No significant relationships.
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