The aim of this study was to determine if there are differences in
cognitive flexibility in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Fifty-three patients with an eating disorder (34 with anorexia nervosa
and 19 with bulimia nervosa) and 35 healthy controls participated in
the study. A battery of neuropsychological tests for cognitive
flexibility was used, including Trail Making B, the Brixton Test,
Verbal Fluency, the Haptic Illusion Test, a cognitive shifting task
(CatBat) and a picture set test. Using exploratory factor analysis,
four factors were obtained: 1: Simple Alternation; 2: Mental
Flexibility; 3: Perseveration; and 4: Perceptual Shift. Patients with
anorexia nervosa had abnormal scores on Factors 1 and 4. Patients with
bulimia nervosa showed a different pattern, with significant
impairments in Factors 2 and 4. These findings suggest that
differential neuropsychological disturbance in the domain of mental
flexibility/rigidity may underlie the spectrum of eating disorders.
(JINS, 2004, 10, 513–520.)