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Decision-making and ‘gut feeling’ in males with anorexia nervosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Eating Disorders: Theory, Research and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

King's Authors


Objective: To examine decision-making in males with anorexia nervosa (AN) and establish if performance is associated with skin conductance responses (SCRs).

Method: Decision-making was assessed in 39 participants [11 males with AN and 28 healthy males] using the Iowa gambling task (IGT). SCRs were recorded during the performance of the IGT.

Results: The male AN group performed significantly worse than healthy controls (HCs) in the IGT. However, their SCRs were similar to the HC group's SCRs, and IGT performance was not correlated with an established somatic measure (SCR).

Discussion: Impaired performance in the IGT in male patients with AN is not associated with diminished somatic responses and clinical severity. Taken with other data, this shows that impaired decision-making is present in both male and female patients with AN. As impaired decision-making is also present in other psychiatric groups, it could be either a non-specific predisposing factor or a consequence of psychiatric morbidity. Nonetheless, this understanding may help to facilitate the development of improved interventions, for example, cognitive rehabilitation programmes, and may also be of benefit for predicting treatment outcome.

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