Brain circuitry is different for women with anorexia and obesity

May 14, 2012

Why does one person become anorexic and another obese? A study recently published by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher shows that reward circuits in the brain are sensitized in anorexic women and desensitized in obese women. The findings also suggest that eating behavior is related to brain dopamine pathways involved in addictions.

Guido Frank, MD, assistant professor director of the Developmental Brain Research Program at the CU School of Medicine and his colleagues used (fMRI) to examine in 63 women who were either anorexic or obese. Scientists compared them to women considered "normal" weight. The participants were visually conditioned to associate certain shapes with either a sweet or a non-sweet solution and then received the taste solutions expectedly or unexpectedly. This task has been associated with brain dopamine function in the past.

The authors found that during these fMRI sessions, an unexpected sweet-tasting solution resulted in increased neural activation of reward systems in the anorexic patients and diminished activation in obese individuals. In rodents, and weight loss have been associated with greater dopamine-related reward responses in the brain.

"It is clear that in humans the brain's reward system helps to regulate food intake" said Frank. "The specific role of these networks in eating disorders such as and, conversely, obesity, remains unclear."

Scientists agree that more research is needed in this area. The study was published in Neuropsychopharmacology.

Related Stories

Does eating give you pleasure or make you anxious?

May 20, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Perhaps the most puzzling symptom of anorexia nervosa -- a disorder that tends to occur in young women -- is the refusal to eat, resulting in extreme weight loss. While most people have a great deal of ...

Obesity reduces the size of your brain

February 1, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- New research from Uppsala University shows that a specific brain region linked to appetite regulation is reduced in elderly people who are obese. Poor eating habits over a lifetime may therefore weaken ...

Recommended for you

Take a trip through the brain (w/ Video)

July 30, 2015

A new imaging tool developed by Boston scientists could do for the brain what the telescope did for space exploration. In the first demonstration of how the technology works, published July 30 in the journal Cell, the researchers ...

Improved memory thanks to irregular sleep-wake patterns

July 31, 2015

If you've had a good night's sleep, you are mentally more alert and your memory works more reliably. During sleep, a part of our forebrain called the prefrontal cortex remains active. It ensures that memories and learned ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.