Brain circuitry is different for women with anorexia and obesity

May 14, 2012, University of Colorado Denver

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.

Explore further: New brain research suggests eating disorders impact brain function

Related Stories

New brain research suggests eating disorders impact brain function

July 11, 2011
Bulimia nervosa is a severe eating disorder associated with episodic binge eating followed by extreme behaviors to avoid weight gain such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or excessive exercise. It is poorly understood ...

Our brains on food: From anorexia to obesity and everything in between

April 3, 2012
The brains of people with anorexia and obesity are wired differently, according to new research. Neuroscientists for the first time have found that how our brains respond to food differs across a spectrum of eating behaviors ...

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

Finding unravels nature of cognitive inflexibility in fragile X syndrome

January 22, 2018
Mice with the genetic defect that causes fragile X syndrome (FXS) learn and remember normally, but show an inability to learn new information that contradicts what they initially learned, shows a new study by a team of neuroscientists. ...

Epilepsy linked to brain volume and thickness differences

January 22, 2018
Epilepsy is associated with thickness and volume differences in the grey matter of several brain regions, according to new research led by UCL and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

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.