Neuropsychological Learning Deficits as Predictors of Treatment Outcome in Patients with Eating Disorders

Ignacio Lucas, Romina Miranda-Olivos, Giulia Testa, Roser Granero, Isabel Sánchez, Jessica Sánchez-González, Susana Jiménez-Murcia, Fernando Fernández-Aranda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Eating disorders (EDs) are severe psychiatric illnesses that require individualized treat-ments. Decision-making deficits have been associated with EDs. Decision-making learning deficits denote a lack of strategies to elaborate better decisions that can have an impact on recovery and response to treatment. This study used the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) to investigate learning differences related to treatment outcome in EDs, comparing between patients with a good and bad treatment outcome and healthy controls. Likewise, the predictive role of impaired learning performance on therapy outcome was explored. Four hundred twenty-four participants (233 ED patients and 191 healthy controls) participated in this study. Decision making was assessed using the Iowa Gambling Task before any psychological treatment. All patients received psychological therapy, and treatment outcome was evaluated at discharge. Patients with bad outcome did not show progression in the decision-making task as opposed to those with good outcome and the healthy control sample. Additionally, learning performance in the decision-making task was predictive of their future out-come. The severity of learning deficits in decision making may serve as a predictor of the treatment. These results may provide a starting point of how decision-making learning deficits are operating as dispositional and motivational factors on responsiveness to treatment in EDs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2145
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Decision making
  • Eating disorders
  • Learning
  • Treatment outcome


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