Memory bias in anorexia nervosa: evidence from directed forgetting

J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2008 Sep;39(3):369-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2007.09.005. Epub 2007 Oct 6.


The aim of this study was to examine memory bias for disorder-relevant information in anorexia nervosa by using the directed forgetting paradigm. Normal controls and patients with anorexia nervosa were given a list consisting of neutral and disorder-relevant words, which they were either asked to remember (R) or forget (F). Memory performance was measured by a free recall and a Yes/No recognition task for all items. There was a directed forgetting effect for both groups; however, the magnitude of the effect (difference between R and F words) was smaller for the patient group due to higher recall of F items. Further analyses showed that this was true only for disorder-relevant but not for neutral items. Our findings support the existence of a strong memory bias for disorder-relevant information in patients with anorexia nervosa, who had difficulty in avoiding the processing of information that they were asked to forget.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amnesia / diagnosis*
  • Amnesia / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Attention*
  • Cognition
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Semantics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Verbal Learning*