King's College London

Research portal

Is attention to detail a similarly strong candidate endophenotype for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-463
Number of pages12
JournalThe world journal of biological psychiatry : the official journal of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

King's Authors


Objectives. To investigate whether attention to detail is a similarly strong candidate endophenotype of anorexia (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), and to explore the incidence and clinical correlates of attention to detail. Methods. A total of 266 women (including AN, BN, recovered AN, unaffected sisters of AN/BN & control women) undertook a thorough clinical assessment and were administered two neuropsychological measures of attention to detail (Group Embedded Figure Test; Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure). Results. Superior attention to detail was found across all AN groups including recovered AN and unaffected AN sisters. Those with BN and their unaffected sisters showed a profile more consistent with poor global integration. The combined effect of superior attention to detail and poor global integration ("weak coherence") was present in 42.3% of active cases and corresponded with a more severe illness, elevated obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and a higher likelihood of comorbid clinical anxiety and self-harm. Conclusions. Attention to detail is a stronger candidate endophenotype of AN compared to BN, where poor global integration may be more relevant. The unique contribution of both aspects of weak coherence (superior attention to detail/poor global integration) requires further exploration and understanding in both eating disorders. Integrating cognitive remediation of these traits into treatment for the subset of patients it is relevant for may improve outcome.

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454