Preliminary evidence for a role for impulsivity in cognitive disinhibition in bulimia nervosa

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2010 Jun;32(5):515-21. doi: 10.1080/13803390903264122.


The present study investigated cognitive disinhibition in bulimia nervosa (BN) and examined whether impulsivity could account for this neuropsychological deficiency. Inhibitory processing of 13 women with BN (16-29 years) was compared against that of 13 healthy control participants matched for age, education, and socioeconomic status on a battery of widely used tasks: Stroop task, Haylings sentence completion test, excluded letter fluency, and Matching Familiar Figures Test. The women were also administered the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11). The BN patients displayed significant impairments on all inhibition measures and posited significantly higher impulsivity scores than the controls. Moreover, controlling for impulsivity reduced the group differences in Stroop color naming and excluded letter fluency to nonsignificance, indicating that poor inhibitory control in BN is at least partly attributable to an impulsive disposition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / complications*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / etiology*
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Young Adult