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Handb Clin Neurol. 2013;116:271-6. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53497-2.00022-X.

Evaluating the potential of deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant anorexia nervosa.

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Division of Neurosurgery, Toronto Western Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


Anorexia nervosa is a chronic and debilitating psychiatric disorder associated with one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric condition. Despite advances in neuroimaging, genetics, pharmacology, and psychosocial interventions in the last half-century, little progress has been made in altering the natural history of the condition or its outcomes. Evidence is now emerging that the condition is, at least in part, maintained by dysfunctional activity in key neuroanatomic circuits subserving illness-maintaining symptoms. Abnormal reward processing, compulsive hyperactivity, chronic anxiety, and depression, all suggest that anorexia nervosa shares much in common with other conditions, such as major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, for which surgical therapy with deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been tried, with promising results. As a result, the use of DBS in treatment-resistant anorexia nervosa should be evaluated in carefully designed, early-phase feasibility trials.


anorexia nervosa; anterior cingulate; deep brain stimulation; depression; insular cortex; interoception; nucleus accumbens

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