Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Brain activity and anorexia

A comparison of brain functioning between anorexic and normal-weight women has found differences in functioning between the two groups that could help to shed light on the development of the condition. Participants in the study were asked to guess whether a flashing question mark on a screen represented a number higher or lower than five. Correct guesses were rewarded with $2 while incorrect guesses forfeited $1. At the same time the women's brain activity was monitored. In the healthy women the brain region responsible for emotional responses, the anterior ventral striatum, showed strong differences between winning and losing, while the same regions in the anorexic women showed much less response. However, the caudate regions of the brains of the anorexic women, a region which deals with outcome and planning, were more active, suggesting that they were more focused on the consequences of their choices. The healthy women responded to wins and losses by living in the moment and moving on to the next task while the anorexic women tried to find strategies within the game and were more concerned about making mistakes. This fits in with previous research which shows that anorexics tend to worry about the future and be more perfectionist than other people.

You can find out more about this research at

No comments: