King's College London

Research portal

Exploring neuropsychological and socio-emotional task performance in anorexia nervosa: A cluster analytic approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Early online date9 Jul 2021
Accepted/In press21 Jun 2021
E-pub ahead of print9 Jul 2021
PublishedSep 2021


King's Authors


The aim of this study was to characterise heterogeneity in neuropsychological and socio-emotional task performance in young women with anorexia nervosa (AN) using hierarchical cluster analysis. Further, we aimed to test whether cognitive profiles were associated with differences in clinical variables (body mass index, illness duration and age at diagnosis), psychopathology (eating disorder, autistic symptoms, anxiety and depression) and functional impairment.

Set-shifting, central coherence and theory of mind abilities were measured in 118 women with acute or remitted AN. A hierarchical cluster analysis using Ward’s method with a Euclidean distance measure was performed with the neuropsychological and socio-emotional variables. Differences between clusters were assessed using ANOVAs.

Four clusters emerged, with significant differences in neuropsychological and socio-emotional task performance. There were no significant differences between clusters in clinical variables, psychopathology or functional impairment, however, these analyses lacked power due to small cluster sizes.

Our results demonstrate significant heterogeneity in cognitive profiles in AN, supporting a more personalised approach to treatment. Studies in larger samples are required to establish whether these variables map onto clinically significant differences in aetiology, clinical presentation, comorbidity patterns and/or treatment responses.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454