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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1997 Feb;19(1):20-33.

Assessment of brain function in adolescent anorexia nervosa before and after weight gain.

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Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.


This study assessed brain function in 20 adolescent females with anorexia nervosa (AN) and 20 controls using event-related potentials (ERPs) and a battery of neuropsychological tests. In the AN group, N4 latencies for a nonverbal memory task were significantly longer than for a verbal task, and P3 latencies for the verbal task were significantly longer among anorexics as compared to controls. On the nonverbal task, the AN group failed to show a right > left hemispheric asymmetry for P3 amplitudes which was observed for controls. These group differences for P3 latency and amplitude were particularly pronounced in the central-parietal region of the head. Body Mass Index (BMI) in the anorexic group significantly predicted N4 amplitudes for the verbal task in the left hemisphere and P3 amplitudes for the nonverbal task in the right hemisphere. The two groups did not differ on any of the tests used to assess neuropsychological functioning. Eight nutritionally recovered patients and their matched controls were retested using the same procedures. Anorexics showed larger P3 amplitudes for the verbal as compared to the nonverbal task at follow-up. These findings provide evidence for localized brain dysfunction in anorexia nervosa that only partially normalizes with weight gain.

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