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Neurocognition in bulimic eating disorders: a systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120 - 140
Number of pages21
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011

King's Authors


Objective: The aim of this study was to review the literature on neurocognition comparing people with a bulimic eating disorder in the acute phase of the illness with healthy controls (HC). Method: The review follows the PRISMA (preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis) statement guidelines. Three databases (Medline, Web of Science, and Scopus) were searched combining the search terms 'bulimic disorder', 'bulimia nervosa (BN)', 'binge-eating disorder (BED)' with terms referring to cognitive domains (e. g. 'executive functions'). Results: Thirty-seven studies on people with BN and four on people with BED were selected for review. Overall, sample sizes were relatively small [bulimic disorders: median and range 22 (12-83); HC: 27 (13-172)]. The diversity in methodology precluded a meta-analytical approach. People with a bulimic disorder did not present with a clear neurocognitive profile. Inclusion of salient, disorder-related stimuli (e. g. body weight/shape words) in the neurocognitive paradigms tended to generate differences between people with a bulimic disorder and HC. Conclusion: Neurocognition in bulimic eating disorders is under researched, and the available evidence is inconclusive. This review outlines strategies for further research in this area.

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