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Eur Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;26(3):176-82. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2010.07.011. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Functional neuroimaging in anorexia nervosa: a clinical approach.

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  • 1Psychiatric Unit, Department of Neuropsychiatric Sciences, Florence University School of Medicine, Viale Morgagni 85, Florence, Italy.



To provide a review of the available literature about the functional neuroimaging of anorexia nervosa, and to summarize the possible role of neurobiological factors in its pathogenesis.


A systematic review of the literature was performed using PubMed and Medline electronic database (1950-September 2009). Eligible studies were restricted to those involving the main parameters of cerebral activity and functional neuroimaging techniques. Findings of the reviewed studies have been grouped on a diagnostic subtype basis, and their comparison has been interpreted in terms of concordance.


We found a high level of concordance among available studies with regard to the presence of frontal, parietal and cingulate functional disturbances in both anorexia nervosa restricting and binge/purging subtypes. Concordance among studies conducted regardless of the anorexia nervosa subtypes suggests an alteration in temporal and parietal functions and striatal metabolism.


The most consistent alterations in anorexia nervosa cerebral activity seem to involve the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the inferior parietal lobule, the anterior cingulate cortex and the caudate nucleus. They may affect different neural systems such as the frontal visual system, the attention network, the arousal and emotional processing systems, the reward processing network, and the network for the body schema.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

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