New Study Finds People With Eating Disorders May Have Bigger Brains
A new study from the University of Colorado has revealed that people with anorexia and other eating disorders may actually have... bigger brains?
In the study, published in The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers used MRI imaging to look at the brains of 19 teenage girls with anorexia, as well as 22 teenage girls who did not have anorexia.
According to Medical News Today:
Results of the scans revealed that the females with anorexia had larger left orbitofrontal, right insular, and bilateral temporal cortex gray matter, compared with the females who did not have anorexia. The insula is an area of the brain that becomes active when we taste food, while the orbitofrontal cortex is a part of the brain that tells a person to stop eating. The researchers conducted an additional comparison of this study with adults suffering from anorexia, alongside a healthy control group. Larger orbitofrontal cortex and insula volumes were also found in the adults with anorexia.
That basically means that certain parts of the brain (in this case, several of the ones that regulate taste and satiety) are bigger than others. Researchers say that having a larger orbitofrontal cortex could be linked to the risk of developing an eating disorder, along with environmental and psychological factors. Guido Frank, an assistant professor of neuroscience at UC Boulder, said:
"While eating disorders are often triggered by the environment, there are most likely biological mechanisms that have to come together for an individual to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa."
I'm interested to see how this new information will be received by the doctors and psychologists who study and treat eating disorders. Obviously, more research is needed in this area, but I'm thinking it could be kind of controversial in the treatment world.