Objectives. The problem of cognitive impairment in eating disorders, especially in anorexia nervosa, remains controversial and the research findings are not univocal. Therefore, in the presented study cognitive disorders were investigated in a homogenous group of young female patients suffering from eating disorders, hospitalized in an adolescent psychiatric unit.
Method Executive functions assessed using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and Digit Span Test in a group of 60 adolescent girls suffering from eating disorders (anorexia or bulimia nervosa) were compared with these of 30 healthy controls and 20 adolescent inpatients with schizophrenia. Moreover, an attempt was made to establish relationships between cognitive impairments and some clinical features of eating disorders, including illness duration, weight loss, BMI at admission and at discharge, as well as the psychopathological picture as assessed by the EDI Test.
Results. As regards cognitive test performance, both patient groups with eating disorders did not differ from the healthy controls, while there were significant differences bettween the schizophrenia group and the remaining groups. Neither in the group with anorexia nor in that with bulimia nervosa any correlation was found bettween clinical characteristics and the WCSTscores. However, in both groups with eating disorders the patients' performance on the digit span forward test was correlated with their BMI at admission, but in a direction opposite to that expected.
Conclusions. The findings confirmed the presence of evident cognitive deficits in schizophrenic patients, but did not reveal any cognitive impairment in patients with eating disorders.