Studie: Cognitive flexibility, central coherence, and quality of life in anorexia nervosa

Journal of Eating Disorders volume 10, Article number: 22 (2022)
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Timo Brockmeyer, Hagen Febry (geb. Schmidt), Anna Leiteritz-Rausch, Wally Wünsch-Leiteritz, Andreas Leiteritz & Hans-Christoph Friederich



Anorexia nervosa (AN) has consistently been found to be associated with poor cognitive flexibility and central coherence. These two cognitive functions have been considered important maintenance factors in AN and are addressed by specific treatment approaches such as cognitive remediation therapy. While there is clear empirical evidence that difficulties in such cognitive functions are related to impaired daily functioning in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, this potential association has received only little attention in AN research so far. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine potential relationships between weak cognitive flexibility, central coherence, and poor quality of life (QoL) in AN.


Cognitive flexibility and central coherence were measured by both neuropsychological (i.e., performance based) and self-report measures alongside with self-reported QoL in a sample of 138 adult patients with AN.


Self-report but not performance based measures of cognitive flexibility and central coherence were associated with QoL. Weaker cognitive flexibility and central coherence were correlated with poorer QoL. These associations were independent of comorbid depression. The link between weak central coherence and poor QoL was particularly strong in patients with the restricting subtype of AN. The link between cognitive flexibility and QoL, however, was independent of AN subtype.


Weak cognitive flexibility and central coherence are associated with low QoL in AN, especially in patients with the restrictive subtype. However, this relationship is dependent on the method of measurement, where self-report measures seem to be more relevant than performance based measures.