Cognitive overcontrol as a trait marker in anorexia nervosa? Aberrant task- and response-set switching in remitted patients.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) often present inflexible behaviors and rigid thinking styles, which may contribute to disorder maintenance. Studies of set shifting have documented impairments in AN, but results have varied across samples. Moreover, the hypothesis that deficient set shifting may constitute an endophenotype rests largely on observations made with neuropsychological tests with limited ability to isolate component cognitive control processes. The current behavioral study used a task switching paradigm with a demonstrated ability to fractionate the hierarchical organization underlying task- and response-set shifting in 22 weight-recovered women with a history of AN (recAN) relative to 22 age-matched healthy controls. Whereas recAN performed generally more accurately than healthy controls, they also responded more slowly. Despite slower performance, however, recAN error rates did not exhibit the characteristic improvement in task switching on trials with a concurrent response switch-an interaction thought to index efficient action sequencing and the hierarchical control of behavior. These results were not mediated by comorbid symptoms, but no relationships with clinical measures were detected. Inefficient set shifting in AN may be related to a general tendency to sustain a high level of cognitive control (as evident here in a robust speed-accuracy trade-off), which interferes with context-sensitive regulation of processing priorities (as evident here in an atypical interaction between task and response switching). Although scarring effects cannot be excluded and the generalizability of our findings needs to be tested, the current observations in recAN provide novel evidence that altered set shifting may be a trait marker of the disorder. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • King, JA; Korb, FM; Vettermann, R; Ritschel, F; Egner, T; Ehrlich, S

Published Date

  • November 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 128 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 806 - 812

PubMed ID

  • 31657595

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1846

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-843X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/abn0000476


  • eng