Understanding self-report and neurocognitive assessments of cognitive flexibility in people with and without lifetime anorexia nervosa

Cogn Neuropsychiatry. 2022 Sep;27(5):325-341. doi: 10.1080/13546805.2022.2038554. Epub 2022 Feb 10.

Abstract

Objective: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious eating disorder associated with several cognitive difficulties including poor cognitive flexibility (i.e. difficulties in effectively adapting to changes in the environment and/or changing task demands). AN research has primarily assessed cognitive flexibility using neurocognitive tests, and little is known about the differences or similarities between self-report and neurocognitive assessments of cognitive flexibility. This study investigated the relationship between self-report and neurocognitive assessments of cognitive flexibility in people with no history of an eating disorder (n = 207) and people with a self-reported lifetime diagnosis of AN (n = 19).Methods: Participants completed self-report and neurocognitive assessments of cognitive flexibility through an online study.Results: No significant correlations were found between self-report and neurocognitive assessments of cognitive flexibility for either group of the sample, suggesting that these assessments may evaluate different aspects of cognitive flexibility. Further, negative mood and self-reported eating disorder symptoms were found to significantly relate to self-reported cognitive flexibility, but were not associated with performance on neurocognitive tests of cognitive flexibility.Conclusions: To provide a comprehensive understanding of perceived and objective cognitive flexibility in AN, future research and clinical assessments should include both self-report and neurocognitive assessments.

Keywords: Cognitive assessment; eating disorders; executive function; neurocognitive test; set-shifting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa* / complications
  • Anorexia Nervosa* / psychology
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Self Report