Executive functioning among female pathological gambling and bulimia nervosa patients: preliminary findings

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2009 Mar;15(2):302-6. doi: 10.1017/S1355617709090377. Epub 2009 Feb 10.


Shared vulnerabilities have been described across disorders of impulse control, including pathological gambling (PG) and bulimia nervosa (BN). Our aim was to compare the executive functioning of PG and BN females in order to confirm their similarity at a neurocognitive level. A total of 15 BN females, 15 PG females, and 15 healthy control (HC) females were administered the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and the Stroop Color and Word Test. Analysis of covariance adjusted for age and education was conducted to compare groups. PG showed the greatest impairment, that is, the highest percentage of WCST perseverative errors (p = .023), the lowest percentage of conceptual-level responses (p = .034), and the highest number of total trials administered (p = .021), while BN showed the highest percentage of WCST nonperseverative errors (p = .003). Both BN and PG females demonstrated executive dysfunction relative to HCs but different specific correlates (i.e., greater vulnerability to distraction in BN, but more cognitive inflexibility in PG).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bulimia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Young Adult