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Int J Eat Disord. 2018 Jul;51(7):730-740. doi: 10.1002/eat.22902. Epub 2018 Aug 21.

Using person-specific neural networks to characterize heterogeneity in eating disorders: Illustrative links between emotional eating and ovarian hormones.

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University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.



Emotional eating has been linked to ovarian hormone functioning, but no studies to-date have considered the role of brain function. This knowledge gap may stem from methodological challenges: Data are heterogeneous, violating assumptions of homogeneity made by between-subjects analyses. The primary aim of this paper is to describe an innovative within-subjects analysis that models heterogeneity and has potential for filling knowledge gaps in eating disorder research. We illustrate its utility in an application to pilot neuroimaging, hormone, and emotional eating data across the menstrual cycle.


Group iterative multiple model estimation (GIMME) is a person-specific network approach for estimating sample-, subgroup-, and individual-level connections between brain regions. To illustrate its potential for eating disorder research, we apply it to pilot data from 10 female twins (N = 5 pairs) discordant for emotional eating and/or anxiety, who provided two resting state fMRI scans and hormone assays. We then demonstrate how the multimodal data can be linked in multilevel models.


GIMME generated person-specific neural networks that contained connections common across the sample, shared between co-twins, and unique to individuals. Illustrative analyses revealed positive relations between hormones and default mode connectivity strength for control twins, but no relations for their co-twins who engage in emotional eating or who had anxiety.


This paper showcases the value of person-specific neuroimaging network analysis and its multimodal associations in the study of heterogeneous biopsychosocial phenomena, such as eating behavior.


connectivity; emotional eating; estrogen; heterogeneity; person-specific; precision healthcare; progesterone; resting state; twin study

[Available on 2019-08-21]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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