Anorexia nervosa alters brain structure in patients


  • Anorexia nervosa is characterized by deliberate weight loss.
  • This disorder mainly affects girls (at least 80% of cases). Peaks of disease onset range from 13-14 years and 16-17 years.

“The pattern of structural brain abnormalities in anorexia nervosa is not yet well understood. While several studies report significant deficits in gray matter volume and cortical thickness in severely underweight patients, others have not found any or even difference An increase in patients compared to healthy controls. This is what a team of scientists wrote in a study recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

As part of this work, the authors analyzed the brain scans of 685 adults with anorexia nervosa, including those in recovery, and 963 healthy subjects.

“Big Sale” for three criteria

According to the results, participants with anorexia are present “Big Sale” Cortical thickness and subcortical volumes and, to a lesser extent, the cortical surface. “To emphasize the effects of undernourishment, these deficits were associated with lower BMI in volunteers with anorexia nervosa and were less pronounced in patients with partial weight recovery,” Can we read in the study. According to the researchers, these reductions are important because they involve the loss of brain cells or the connections between them.

The scientists claimed that the magnitude of the effect observed for decreased cortical thickness in anorexia nervosa was the largest of any psychiatric disorder studied so far. Simply put, this means that people with anorexia showed two to four times less brain size and shape than patients with conditions, such as depression, attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). .

These changes may not be permanent.

“We found that the significant reductions in brain structure observed in patients were less evident in recovering patients. This is a good sign, as it indicates that these changes may not be permanent. With appropriate treatment, the brain may be able to rebound” and Esther Walton, author of the work, said in statement. The team stressed the importance of early treatment to help people with anorexia avoid long-term structural changes in the brain.


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