Abstract

Objective: Little is known about the neurocognitive mechanisms that mediate the association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and eating disorders (ED). The literature has suggested that eating disorders and ADHD could be explained as different expressions of common biological underpinnings. We suspect there is a common neuropsychological pathway that implicates self-regulation deficits. The objective of this study was to review the literature regarding shared neuropsychological mechanisms and cognitive functioning amongst individuals with ADHD and individuals with disordered eating. Data Selection: We conducted a qualitative analysis of the literature consisting of 10 peer-reviewed articles ranging from 2004 to 2013 using the keywords eating disorders, binge eating, executive functioning, inattention, impulsivity, and ADHD. Searched databases included EBSCOhost, ProQuest, Academic Search Premier, PsychINFO, PsychArticles, ScienceDirect, PubMed, and CoBimet. Initial searches revealed a total of 57 possibly applicable articles. Exclusion criteria included those that were not published within the time range, case studies, and/or that were not peer-reviewed. Data Synthesis: The literature review demonstrated associations between ADHD and ED in relation to dysfunctions in dopamine receptors, dopaminergic reward system dysfunction, Melanocortin-4 receptor deficiency, and neurocognitive performance, especially in executive functioning. Conclusion(s): Research suggested similar impairments in neurocognitive performance. Based on these findings clinicians will be able to understand ADHD and ED conceptually and accurately for effective prevention and treatment. However, the findings must be considered with caution due to the small sample sizes and limited literature available. Further research should aim to explore the exact neuropsychological and cognitive mechanisms underlying ADHD and each type of Eating Disorder.