Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology vol:27 issue:8 pages:931-942
In a previous study young seriously underweight anorexia nervosa (AN) patients in the early phase of treatment were found to react faster in psychomotor tasks. To further understand this finding we studied the impact of weight restoration on the performance of AN patients in drawing and copying tasks. A group of 17 female AN patients, aged 14 to 25, was compared with 17 healthy controls, matched for sex, age and educational level. Patients were tested when severely underweight and after weight restoration. Control subjects were also tested twice. Using computerized recording and analysis of writing and drawing behavior, reaction times and drawing times were derived, while cognitive and motor demands were manipulated. Overall, AN patients showed shorter reaction times in copying tasks and shorter drawing time in the drawing task than normal controls, and this pattern persisted after weight restoration. No significant group (AN vs. controls) by session (test vs. retest) effect emerged. The finding of a consistent pattern of shorter reaction and drawing times in AN patients before and after weight restoration is compatible with a personality characteristic of perfectionism and overachievement in AN patients.