Brain Size May Yield Clues to Anorexia08/28/13
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Teens with anorexia
nervosa have bigger brains than those without the eating disorder,
a finding that suggests biology may play a larger role in the
condition than realized.
Specifically, the teenage girls with anorexia had a larger
insula, a part of the brain that is active when you taste food, and
a larger orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that tells you
when to stop eating, said researchers from the University of
Colorado School of Medicine.
"While eating disorders are often triggered by the environment, there are most likely biological mechanisms that have to come together for an individual to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa," Dr. Guido Frank, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, said in a university news release.
Anorexia causes people to lose more weight than is considered
healthy. Larger volume in the orbitofrontal cortex could be a trait
that causes these people to stop before they've eaten enough, the
study suggests. And the right insula, which integrates body
perception, might contribute to the sense of being fat despite
The small study included 19 teen girls with anorexia and 22 teen
girls without the disorder who underwent MRI brain scans. The
findings were published recently in the
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Frank said similar results in children with anorexia nervosa and
in adults who had recovered from the disease raise the possibility
that insula and orbitofrontal cortex brain size could increase a
person's risk of developing an eating disorder. This study did not,
however, prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
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