The size of our brains may indicate the risk of developing an eating disorder. According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry brain size may be an indicator for anorexia nervosa.
Large brain could serve as predictor for risk
A bigger brain may be one reason why people with anorexia are able to starve themselves. This characteristic could be a predictor of the disorder according to researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado. They studied 19 adolescent females with anorexia nervosa, and 22 adolescent girls without the disorder. MRI was used to study brain volumes of the volunteers.
Enlarged areas of the brain may be sending false messages
Scans revealed that the females with anorexia had larger left orbitofrontal, right insular, and bilateral temporal cortex gray matter compared to the girls in the control group. The insula is area of the brain where the taste of food is processed. The orbitofrontal cortex is the part of the brain that triggers eating cessation by telling us we are full. Higher brain volume in this area could indicate a pattern cross people with eating disorders. It may encourage the cessation of eating before a person is truly satisfied or full. “The negative correlation between taste pleasantness and orbitofrontal cortex volume in individuals with anorexia nervosa could contribute to food avoidance in this disorder,” said study authors.
Biological mechanisms joining environmental ones to cause the problem
Interestingly, the right insula is also the area responsible for our perception of body image. An enlarged insula may be affecting perceptions about one’s own body leading people with anorexia to believe they are overweight. “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,” explained Guido Frank, assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the university.
Source: The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, MedicalNewsToday