Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Anorexic Patients Cling To Their Eating Disorder

Date:
August 3, 2009
Source:
University Hospital Heidelberg
Summary:
Anorexic patients drastically reduce food intake and are often not capable of changing their behavior. This can lead to life-threatening weight loss. Using MRI technology, scientists have discovered for the first time processes in brain metabolism that explain this disturbed eating behavior.

Related Articles


Anorexic patients drastically reduce food intake and are often not capable of changing their behavior. This can lead to life-threatening weight loss. Using MRI technology, scientists at Heidelberg University Hospital have discovered for the first time processes in brain metabolism that explain this disturbed eating behavior.

The research work of the Department of Psychosomatic and General Internal Medicine at Heidelberg University Hospital (Medical Director: Professor Dr. Wolfgang Herzog) arose in cooperation with the Heidelberg University Hospitals of General Psychiatry and Neurology.

Changes in brain activation associated with rigid behavior

Many young girls and women go on diets to achieve their ideal figure. Less than one percent of the population is affected by life-threatening anorexia. Despite intensive treatment, the course of the disorder is severe and chronic in 20 to 30 percent of the cases and about 10 percent of the patients die of the disease.

The Heidelberg researchers examined a total of 30 young women with and without anorexia by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI device recorded the level of blood flow in various areas of the brain. Greater blood flow indicates higher metabolism and thus greater activity in this area of the brain.

The participants underwent a test that measured their capacity for flexible behavior modification of recently learned behavior. In this test, the subjects were shown a rapid sequence of various geometric shapes and asked to match them. After one test run, the matching principle was changed.

“In this study, we confirmed that anorexic patients cling to familiar behavioral responses more frequently than healthy subjects, thus suppressing alternative behavior," explained Dr. Hans-Christoph Friederich, head of the working group for eating disorders. The analysis of the MRI images also showed that in patients with anorexia compared with healthy subjects, a certain network pathway between the cortex and the diencephalon is less activated. This network pathway plays a decisive role in initiating and controlling actions under rapidly changing environmental demands.

New therapy approaches through brain research

The results of the study contribute decisively to a better understanding of anorexia. In particular, they make it clear that neurobiological factors are involved and sustain the clinical symptoms. Since psychological and neurobiological factors can influence each other, this may lead to new therapy approaches for anorexia.

"We have developed a treatment program for anorexia patients that specifically targets the flexible modification of behavioral responses,“ says Dr. Friederich. In this way, the researchers hope to improve the success of psychotherapeutic treatment. The MRI examination of the brain could contribute to measure the success of treatment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Hospital Heidelberg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zastrow et al. Neural Correlates of Impaired Cognitive-Behavioral Flexibility in Anorexia Nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2009; 166 (5): 608 DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2008.08050775

Cite This Page:

University Hospital Heidelberg. "Why Anorexic Patients Cling To Their Eating Disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803092612.htm>.
University Hospital Heidelberg. (2009, August 3). Why Anorexic Patients Cling To Their Eating Disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803092612.htm
University Hospital Heidelberg. "Why Anorexic Patients Cling To Their Eating Disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090803092612.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

Fauci Says Ebola Risk in US "essentially Zero"

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the risk of Ebola becoming an epidemic in the U.S. is essentially zero Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum. He also said an Ebola vaccine will be tested in West Africa in the next few months. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for an hour-long bike ride. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Launches Fitness Band After Accidental Reveal

Microsoft Launches Fitness Band After Accidental Reveal

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) Microsoft accidentally revealed its upcoming fitness band on Wednesday, so the company went ahead and announced it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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