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CNS Spectr. 2004 Jul;9(7):539-48.

Neuroimaging studies in eating disorders.

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Department of Eating Disorders Research, University of Pittsburgh, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


The understanding of the eating disorders (EDs) anorexia (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) has undergone remarkable advancements in the past decade. Most studies that have been done in AN show brain gray and white matter volume loss during the ill state that, at least in part, remit with recovery. Similar patterns occur for brain phospholipids assessed using magnet resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Imaging studies have been used to provide functional information regarding serotonin neuroreceptor dynamics, regional cerebral blood flow, or cerebral glucose metabolism. Such studies have implicated cingulate, frontal, temporal, and parietal regions in AN. Investigators have found that challenges such as food and body image distortions may activate some of these regions, raising the possibility that such studies may shed light on puzzling AN symptoms, such as body image distortions or extremes of appetitive behaviors. Emerging data suggest these disturbances persist after recovery from AN, suggesting the possibility that these are traits that may create a vulnerability to develop an ED. While fewer studies have been done in BN or binge eating disorder, there may be disturbances of serotonin metabolism in similar brain regions. Taken together, these findings give promise for future investigations with the hope of delineating brain pathways that contribute to the etiology of EDs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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