Eating Disorders Are In Your Head

Saturday Jun 19th, 2021


Most of us know that eating disorders are somewhat in the head, but what we may not know is that there is a specific location in the head, according to scientists studying the relationship between eating and the brain.

In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, researchers measured the brain activity of a wide range of subjects, from the anorexic to the morbidly obese.

Participants were given fMRI brain scans while viewing images of high-calorie food, then fed, and then scanned a second time. Subjects on the anorexic side of the scale, who were scanned before eating, exhibited lower than normal activity in regions of the brain associated with feelings of reward; those on the opposite extreme who were scanned before eating demonstrated a higher than normal response in the reward areas of the brain.

The findings suggest that eating disorders on both ends of the spectrum may share some of the same brain pathways and that eating disorders might be disorders of brain function in the reward stimulation area—raising hopes that specific areas of the brain could be targeted to help treat both obesity and anorexia.


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