Evaluation of cognitive function in patients with severe anorexia nervosa before and after medical stabilization

J Eat Disord. 2020 Jul 31;8:35. doi: 10.1186/s40337-020-00312-5. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this study was to quantify cognitive deficits in severe anorexia nervosa (AN) before and after medical stabilization.

Methods: This was a prospective study of 40 females between the ages of 18 and 50 admitted to a medical stabilization unit with severe AN (%IBW < 70). The primary outcome of the study was change in test scores on the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) at baseline and after medical stabilization.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences in baseline RBANS scores between AN patients overall and controls (p = 0.0940). There was a statistically significant change in RBANS from baseline 94.1 + 12.7 to medical stabilization 97.1 + 10.6 (p = 0.0173), although notably both mean values fell within the average range. There were no significant differences in baseline RBANS scores between controls and AN-BP patients (p = 0.3320) but significant differences were found between controls and AN-R patients (p = 0.0434).

Conclusions: No baseline deficits in cognition were found in this sample of women with severe AN.

Keywords: Anorexia nervosa; Cognition; Malnutrition; Refeeding; Starved brain.