New Findings on Brain Activity in Eating Disorders

KEY TAKEAWAYS
Brain scans of individuals with binge-eating disorder or bulimia reveal altered activity in areas linked to habit formation, suggesting the potential for new treatments for these conditions.
The sensorimotor putamen and the associative caudate are two brain structures involved in habitual behaviors.
Altered activity was found in the sensorimotor putamen and the associative caudate in individuals with binge-eating disorder or bulimia nervosa, indicating changes in the structure of the grey matter and dopamine signaling, especially in the sensorimotor putamen.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter released in response to reward, plays a significant role in habit formation, and the putamen in individuals with eating disorders had fewer dopamine receptors than healthy brains.
Future treatments targeting the implicated brain regions could potentially treat habitual behaviors underlying many psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders.

 

Brain scans of people with binge-eating disorder or bulimia reveal altered activity in areas linked to habit formation, suggesting potential new treatments for these conditions.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania found differences in brain structures related to dopamine signaling, which could help in understanding the brain mechanisms behind habit-driven eating behavior.

Identifying Habit-Forming Brain Structures

Researchers pinpointed two brain structures, the sensorimotor putamen and the associative caudate, as having a role in the formation of habits.

In order to locate these structures, they studied the links between the rat brain cortex and the striatum, utilizing high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from a sample of 178 human subjects.

Brain Activity Differences in Eating Disorders

The researchers then studied the brains of 34 women with binge-eating disorder or bulimia nervosa and found altered activity in the sensorimotor putamen and the associative caudate.

Specifically, they found changes in the structure of the grey matter and in dopamine signaling, particularly in the sensorimotor putamen.

In individuals with eating disorders, the links between specific regions of the cortex and the habit-strengthening sensorimotor putamen were considerably more robust than in those without such disorders.

The degree of variation in brain scan results correlated directly with self-reported assessments of eating disorder severity.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania found differences in brain structures related to dopamine signaling, which could help in understanding the brain mechanisms behind habit-driven eating behavior.

Dopamine’s Role in Habit Formation

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter released in response to reward, plays a significant role in habit formation.

The researchers found that the putamen in individuals with eating disorders had fewer dopamine receptors than healthy brains.

They suspect that increased dopamine release might reduce the sensitivity of these receptors and decrease their number.

Potential New Treatments

These discoveries indicate that further investigation into novel therapies for binge-eating disorder and bulimia is warranted, given the historical resistance of these conditions to existing treatments.

Methods like deep-brain stimulation or transcranial magnetic stimulation might be employed to address the affected brain areas.

Moreover, the findings of this study suggest that upcoming interventions for a range of psychiatric disorders, not solely binge-eating disorder and bulimia, could focus on directly targeting brain circuitry.

The Link Between Habit Learning and Binge Eating

The study revealed that the degree of alteration in the sensorimotor putamen’s connectivity correlated with the severity of disordered eating behavior.

This suggests that the formation of a structural neural circuit links habit learning and binge eating behavior in humans.

The authors conclude that future treatments involving the modulation of these circuit-based mechanisms could potentially treat habitual behaviors underlying the treatment-resistant nature of many psychiatric disorders, not limited to eating disorders.

Craig Miller

Read Full Biography
Back to previous

You May Also Like

Special Interest

Smart Tattoos for Health: Next-Gen Monitoring Tech

This article follows The History of Tattoos, The Legacy of Apo Whang-Od, and Oil Pastel Tattoos. Injectable ‘smart tattoos’ could…

Special Interest

Astral Projection Guide: Explore Beyond Your Physical Realm

Discover the fascinating world of astral projection with our comprehensive guide. Learn the steps, benefits, and safety tips for an…

Special Interest

The Legacy of Apo Whang-Od: Master of Filipino Tattoo Art

This article follows The Rich History of Tattoos and aims to shed even more light on this ancient form of…

  • mail
  • facebook
  • twitter

related articles

Special Interest

China’s AI Censorship and India’s Hands-off Approach to Regulation

Special Interest

Unraveling the Mystery Behind Sea Urchin Mass Deaths

Special Interest

FTX’s Downfall: A Shocking Tale of Cybersecurity Chaos and Reckless Mismanagement


Articles About Special Interest

Discover the Secrets of Your Future: Mastering Palm Reading

January 17, 2024

The Rich History of Tattoos

January 13, 2024

Viking Runes: The Truth, Mystery and Magic

January 10, 2024

The Healing Wisdom of I Ching for Modern Well-being

January 3, 2024

Healing from Spiritual and Occupational Burnout: Expert Tips

December 27, 2023