A comparison of neuropsychological test performance on the Ravello Profile between bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa
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Background The Ravello Profile is a battery of standardised neuropsychological measures of areas of functioning that evidence indicates are impaired in Anorexia Nervosa (AN), namely visuo-spatial functioning, central coherence and executive functioning. The neuropsychological profile of individuals with Bulimia Nervosa (BN) is less well established. The current study aimed to examine differences in cognitive performance between people with BN, AN and non-eating disordered controls on the Ravello Profile. Methods The AN group (N=60) comprised participants from an existing database (Frampton et al. 2009). The BN group (N=22) largely comprised participants from NHS adult out-patient services. The non-eating disordered control group (N=20) comprised of colleagues and acquaintances of the researcher. Differences between AN, BN and control samples on visuo-spatial functioning, central coherence, executive functioning and error rates were examined. Results The AN group performed significantly worse than the BN group on a measure of central coherence and on some measures of executive function, but the BN group did not perform worse than the control group. There was no significant difference between the groups on three measures of visuo-spatial functioning. However, the AN group was significantly slower than both the BN and control group to copy the figure. The results showed some evidence of increased error rates in BN relative to AN, which may reflect greater impulsivity in BN. Conclusions The results indicate separate patterns of neuropsychological performance between AN, BN and controls, with AN demonstrating poorer performance on measures of executive function and central coherence, whilst BN participants showed higher rates of errors. The BN group were also generally faster to complete some tasks, indicative of a preference for speed over accuracy or impulsivity. Those working with individuals with AN or BN should take into consideration possible effects of their respective cognitive limitations and adapt interventions accordingly.