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Can impaired inhibitory control be considered a transdiagnostic factor in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa?

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Penolazzi, B., Stramaccia, D., Libardi, A., Genovese, A., Castelli, L., Palomba, D., et al. (2017). Can impaired inhibitory control be considered a transdiagnostic factor in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa?. Poster presented at 10th National Congress of the Italian Society for the Studyof Eating Disorders (SISDCA), Rome, Italy.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-5D58-1
Introduction Impaired inhibitory control (i.e., the inability to suppressdysfunctional thoughts and behaviors) might be a transdiagnosticfactor involved in the development and/or maintenance of differentkinds of psychopathologies, including eating disorders. In line withthis, recent studies have suggested that patients suffering from eitheranorexia nervosa (AN) or bulimia nervosa (BN) exhibit deficits inmotor response inhibition.AimIn the present research, we tested the status of these patients’inhibitory cognitive control in the domain of episodic memory, bytesting their ability to inhibit interfering memories.MethodsThis aim was addressed by administering a computerizedtask, theretrieval-practice paradigm[1], typically used to assessimplicit memory inhibition. This paradigm helped disclosing deficitsof cognitive control over mnestic representations also in other clinicalpopulations (e.g., in substance-related disorders, see [2]). It allows formeasuring both the beneficial effect of practicing some target items,and the detrimental effects of retrieval practice over interfering itemsassociated to those practiced (an effect calledretrieval-induced for-getting, RIF). The latter phenomenon is thought to reflect an adaptiveinhibitory mechanism aimed at reducing competition in memoryretrieval. 27 healthy controls and 27 patients with either AN or BNperformed a retrieval-practice paradigm, a control task addressinggeneral reactivity, and filled a self-report impulsivity questionnaire.ResultsNo differences between patients and controls were observedfor either the beneficial effects of practice or RIF. However, when patients with AN and BN were analyzed separately, a clear dissoci-ation emerged: patients with AN displayed a selective deficit in RIF,whereas patients with BN showed an intact memory suppressionperformance. No group differences emerged in the control task.Discussion and conclusionThe results point to an extension of currentevidence of cognitive control deficits to episodic memory only forpatients with AN. These preliminary data suggest a differentinvolvement of inhibitory deficits in the two kinds of patients.