Subjective self-control and behavioural impulsivity coexist in anorexia nervosa.

Department of Psychology, University of Greenwich, Eltham, London SE9 2UG, UK.
Eating Behaviors (Impact Factor: 1.58). 07/2005; 6(3):221-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2004.11.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Anorexia nervosa (AN) has been associated with impulse regulation problems. This study investigated subjective and behavioural impulsivity in women with anorexia nervosa (n=15) and a control group (n=16).
A self-report measure (the impulsiveness, venturesomeness, and empathy questionnaire; I(7)) and two behavioural measures (a continuous performance task [CPT]; and a novel risk taking measure [Bets 16]) of impulsivity were used along with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
The AN group had elevated BDI scores and lower self-reported impulsiveness and venturesomeness scores, but they also displayed impulsive behaviour on the CPT (more errors of commission with faster reaction times).
The coexistence, in AN, of self-reported self-control and behavioural impulsivity indicates that the relationship between impulsivity and disordered eating in AN is more complex than previously recognised and supports the view that self-awareness in AN is low.

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Available from: Georgia Butler, Jan 16, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) show extreme dieting weight loss, hyperactivity, depression/anxiety, self-control, and behavioral impulsivity. 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; serotonin) is involved in almost all the behavioral changes observed in AN patients. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute toward the pathogenesis of AN. It is a frequent disorder among adolescent girls and young women and starts as an attempt to lose weight to look beautiful and attractive. Failure to see the turning point when fasting becomes unreasonable leads to malnutrition and AN. Tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin and an essential amino acid, is only available in the diet. It is therefore likely that excessive diet restriction and malnutrition decrease brain serotonin stores because the precursor is less available to the rate-limiting enzyme of 5-HT biosynthesis, which normally exists unsaturated with its substrate. Evidence shows that diet restriction-induced exaggerated feedback control over 5-HT synthesis and the smaller availability of tryptophan decreases serotonin neurotransmission at postsynaptic sites, leading to hyperactivity, depression, and behavioral impulsivity. A compensatory upregulation of postsynaptic 5-HT-1A receptors and hypophagic serotonin receptors may be involved in anxiety and suppression of appetite. It is suggested that tryptophan supplementation may improve pharmacotherapy in AN.
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