2006 issue 2


Volume 15, issue 2

Review article

Cognitive function impairment in anorexia nervosa

ANNA ŚMIECH1, Jolanta Rabe-Jabłońska1
1. Klinika Zaburzeń Afektywnych i Psychiatrii Młodzieżowej Katedry Psychiatrii Uniwersytetu Medycznego w Łodzi
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2006; 15 (2): 105-115
Keywords: anorexia nervosa, cognitive function impairment


Objectives. An attempt was made to systematize neuropsychological research findings concerning patients with anorexia nervosa.

Background. In view of neuroimaging research findings that indicate, above all, the presence of cortico-subcortical atrophies and an increased volume offluid spaces in patients with anorexia nervosa, the aim of many subsequent experiments was to describe the state of their cognitive functions. These research results are discrepant, and sometimes contradictory. Some authors reported considerable abnormalities, most often disturbances of attention, working memory, and visuo-spatial abilities, while others eitherfound no significant differences between anorectic patients and the controls as regards the mean level ofparticular cognitive functions, or even reported a superior cognitive performance of the former. In a majority of studies no correlation was found between neuropsychological parameters on the one hand and the degree of the patients' cachexia, duration of the condition, and severity of concurrent mental disorders. However, evidence has been collected indicating that some of the abnormalities observed in the active stage of the disorder disappear during remission. Nevertheless some authors hypothesize that cognitive impairment in anorexia nervosa is premorbid and of pathogenic character.

Conclusions. Anorexia nervosa is associated with an impairment of various cognitive functions of unknown etiology. Further research should be focused on relationships between neuropsychological, neuroimaging and biochemical examination findings.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Anna Śmiech, Centralny Szpital Kliniczny Uniwersytetu Medycznego, Klinika Zaburzeń Afektywnych i Psychiatrii Młodzieżowej, ul. Czechosłowacka 8/10, 92-216 Łódź, e-mail: annasmiech@wp.pl