In first presentation adolescent anorexia nervosa, do cognitive markers of underweight status change with weight gain following a refeeding intervention?

Int J Eat Disord. 2010 May;43(4):295-306. doi: 10.1002/eat.20695.


Objective: To determine the nature and severity of cognitive functioning impairment in adolescent anorexia nervosa (AN) when underweight and following weight gain.

Method: In 37 first admission adolescent (12-18 years) AN patients and 45 matched controls, general cognitive functions were assessed at baseline and follow-up using the IntegNeuro-computerized battery. AN participants were tested between days 3 and 10 of their admission when underweight, with retesting conducted after weight restoration.

Results: When underweight, AN participants performed more poorly than controls on sensori-motor speed tasks and exhibited a susceptibility to interference, but had superior working memory. Once the weight is restored, individuals significantly improved relative to their own performance. Relative to controls, they were significantly faster on attention and executive function tasks, exhibited superior verbal fluency, working memory, and a significantly superior ability to inhibit well-learnt responses.

Discussion: Cognitive impairments in adolescent AN appear to normalize with refeeding and weight gain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Attention
  • Awareness*
  • Body Image
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy*
  • Eating
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Admission
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Thinness / psychology*
  • Thinness / therapy*
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Weight Gain*