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Psychiatry Res. 1981 Feb;4(1):79-88.

Prediction of outcome in anorexia nervosa from neuropsychological status.


To evaluate the possibility that subtle brain dysfunction may exist in anorexia nervosa and indicate a poor prognosis, 20 anorexia nervosa patients received neuropsychological assessments covering a broad array of cognitive performances. The patients were examined at admission and again at the end of an inhospital treatment program when they were at normal weight for their age and height. Pretreatment performance on the assessment battery was not associated with outcome 1 year after discharge. However, posttreatment performance and significantly associated with outcome. A majority (71%) of patients with two or more cognitive deficits showed an unfavorable outcome (i.e., did not maintain their weight). In contrast, a majority (85%) of patients with less than two cognitive defects had a favorable outcome (i.e., maintained or increased their weight). The findings suggest that the hypothesis of a central nervous system disorder limiting the capacity for anorectics to recover deserves further exploration.

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