Pediatric Update: Anorexia nervosa and brain activity

Recovery and chronicity in anorexia nervosa: brain activity associated with differential outcomes.

Uher R, et al.

Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Nov 1;54(9):934-42.

BACKGROUND: The course of anorexia nervosa varies from rapid recovery to a chronic debilitating illness. This study aimed to identify functional neural correlates associated with differential outcomes.

METHODS: Brain reactions to food and emotional visual stimuli were measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging in nine women who had long-term recovery from restricting anorexia nervosa. These were compared with age- and education-matched groups of eight women chronically ill with restricting anorexia nervosa and nine healthy control women.

RESULTS: In response to food stimuli, increased medial prefrontal and anterior cingulate activation, as well as a lack of activity in the inferior parietal lobule, differentiated the recovered group from the healthy control subjects. Increased activation of the right lateral prefrontal, apical prefrontal, and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices differentiated these recovered subjects from chronically ill patients. Group differences were specific to food stimuli, whereas processing of emotional stimuli did not differ between groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Separate neural correlates underlie trait and state characteristics of anorexia nervosa. The medial prefrontal response to disease-specific stimuli may be related to trait vulnerability. Lateral and apical prefrontal involvement is associated with a good outcome.

Source: Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, United Kingdom.

Pediatric Articles Dr Widodo Judarwanto (pediatrician)

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