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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2006 Sep;12(5):741-5.

The Iowa gambling task as a measure of decision making in women with bulimia nervosa.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA.


Persistent chaotic feeding behavior (i.e., bingeing and purging), despite consequent adverse health and psychosocial consequences, is central to the definition and diagnosis of bulimia nervosa (BN). Repeatedly choosing immediate short-term gratification when long-term consequences are deleterious may reflect deficits in decision-making ability. However, to date, there has been no systematic examination of decision-making ability in individuals diagnosed with BN. In the present study, 20 undergraduate women with minimal bulimic symptoms (Control Group) and 20 with a diagnosis of BN (BN Group) were administered the Iowa Gambling Task (GT). Results indicated that the BN Group performed significantly worse on the GT in comparison to the Control Group and GT performance was negatively correlated with bulimic symptomatology. The presence of BN symptoms also predicted GT performance above and beyond demographic variables and depressive symptoms. These findings provide evidence for the presence of decision-making deficits in individuals with BN.

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