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Biol Psychiatry. 2003 May 15;53(10):921-7.

Neurocognitive functioning in subjects with eating disorders: the influence of neuroactive steroids.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Naples SUN, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Neuropsychological studies in subjects with eating disorders (EDs) have reported conflicting findings, which might be accounted for by several confounding variables, including neuroendocrine changes.

METHODS:

General abilities, executive functions, attention, and noneffortful learning were assessed in 45 patients with EDs and 45 healthy comparison subjects (HCS). Plasma levels of 17beta-estradiol, cortisol, allopregnanolone, dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulfate metabolite (DHEA and DHEAS) were evaluated in a subsample of patients and HCS. The influence of clinical, demographic, and neuroendocrine variables on neurocognitive performance was explored.

RESULTS:

Patients were slower than HCS on noneffortful learning and more accurate on a spatial executive task. DHEA and DHEAS were increased and positively correlated with accuracy on the executive task, while cortisol positively correlated with speed of noneffortful learning.

CONCLUSIONS:

A subtle impairment of noneffortful learning is the only neuropsychological deficit in patients with EDs. Changes in neuroactive steroids influence neurocognitive performance.

PMID:
12742680
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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