Clinical investigation of set-shifting subtypes in anorexia nervosa.

Giovanni Abbate-Daga n, Sara Buzzichelli, Enrica Marzola, Federico Amianto, Secondo Fassino

Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research, Department of Neuroscience, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

Abstract :

While evidence continues to accumulate on the relevance of cognitive inflexibility in anorexia nervosa (AN), its clinical correlates remain unclear. We aimed at examining the relationship between set-shifting and clinical variables (i.e., eating psychopathology, depression, and personality) in AN. Ninety-four individuals affected by AN and 59 healthy controls (HC) were recruited. All participants were assessed using: Eating Disorders Inventory-2 (EDI-2), Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), Beck Depres- sion Inventory (BDI), and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). The AN group scored worse than HCs on set-shifting. According to their neuropsychological performances, AN patients were split into two groups corresponding to poor (N1⁄430) and intact (N1⁄464) set-shifting subtypes. Interoceptive awareness, impulse regulation, and maturity fears on the EDI-2 and depression on the BDI differed across all groups (HC, intact, and poor set-shifting subtype). Self-directedness on the TCI differed significantly among all groups. Cooperativeness and reward dependence differed instead only between HC and AN poor set-shifting subtype. After controlling for depression, only interoceptive awareness remained significant with reward dependence showing a trend towards statistical significance. These findings suggest that multiple clinical variables may be correlated with set-shifting performances in AN. The factors contributing to impaired cognitive inflexibility could be more complex than heretofore generally considered.