Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Circuit Abnormalities May Underlie Bulimia Nervosa In Women

Date:
January 7, 2009
Source:
JAMA and Archives Journals
Summary:
Women with bulimia nervosa appear to respond more impulsively during psychological testing than those without eating disorders, and brain scans show differences in areas responsible for regulating behavior, according to a new report.

Women with bulimia nervosa appear to respond more impulsively during psychological testing than those without eating disorders, and brain scans show differences in areas responsible for regulating behavior, according to a new report.

Bulimia nervosa often begins in the adolescent or young adult years, according to background information in the article. "Primarily affecting girls and women, it is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting or another compensatory behavior to avoid weight gain," the authors write. "These episodes of binge eating are associated with a severe sense of loss of control."

Certain pathways between nerve cells known as frontostriatal circuits help individuals control their own voluntary behaviors, the authors note. These functions are tested during the performance of the Simon Spatial Incompatibility task, in which participants must indicate the direction an arrow is pointing regardless of where it appears on a screen. The task is easier when the arrow direction matches the side of the screen, but more difficult when, for instance, an arrow that points leftward appears on the right side of the screen. Ignoring the side of the screen to focus on the arrow direction requires regulating behavior by fighting the tendency to respond automatically and resolving conflicting messages.

Rachel Marsh, Ph.D., and colleagues at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, compared the performance on the task of 20 women with bulimia nervosa with that of 20 healthy women who served as controls. Participants performed the task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

"Patients with bulimia nervosa exhibited greater impulsivity than did control participants, responding faster and making more errors on conflict trials [where the arrow direction and location did not match] that required self-regulatory control to respond correctly," the authors write. "They responded faster on congruent trials following incorrect conflict trials, suggesting impulsive responding even immediately after having committed an error." When patients with bulimia did respond correctly on trials in which the arrow side and direction did not match, their frontostriatal circuits did not activate to the same degree as did those of women in the control group.

"These group differences in performance and patterns of brain activity suggest that individuals with bulimia nervosa do not activate frontostriatal circuits appropriately, perhaps contributing to impulsive responses to conflict stimuli that normally require both frontostriatal activation and the exercise of self-regulatory control to generate a correct response," the authors conclude. "We speculate that this inability to engage frontostriatal systems also contributes to their inability to regulate binge-type eating and other impulsive behaviors."

To expand on this hypothesis, future studies should also include impulsive individuals who have healthy weights and eating behaviors, adolescents close to the time that bulimia nervosa develops and patients with varying severity of symptoms, they note.

Editor's Note: This study was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, by a grant from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and by funding from the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Columbia University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rachel Marsh; Joanna E. Steinglass; Andrew J. Gerber; Kara Graziano O'Leary; Zhishun Wang; David Murphy; B. Timothy Walsh; Bradley S. Peterson. Deficient Activity in the Neural Systems That Mediate Self-regulatory Control in Bulimia Nervosa. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2009;66(1):51-63 [link]

Cite This Page:

JAMA and Archives Journals. "Brain Circuit Abnormalities May Underlie Bulimia Nervosa In Women." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090105175031.htm>.
JAMA and Archives Journals. (2009, January 7). Brain Circuit Abnormalities May Underlie Bulimia Nervosa In Women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090105175031.htm
JAMA and Archives Journals. "Brain Circuit Abnormalities May Underlie Bulimia Nervosa In Women." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090105175031.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins