The results of a recent study conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom in collaboration with international partners reveal important differences in brain structure between those with and without anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia Nervosa – a severe eating disorder caused by a mental illness – affects more than a quarter of a million people in the UK over the age of 16, and the understanding of why some people develop anorexia nervosa is largely unknown, although … biological agents are widely recognized.
These new findings are based on a comprehensive analysis of brain scans of patients around the world and have been published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, making some progress in uncovering the cause of the disease.
The study found that people with anorexia show significant reductions in three important brain functions; They are: cortical thickness, subcortical blocks and cortical surface area. Reducing the size of the brain is important because they indicate the loss of brain cells or the connections between them.
The study team found that people with anorexia nervosa had two to four times less brain size and shape than those with conditions such as depression, inattentive hyperactivity disorder or manic-compulsive disorder. Changes in brain size for anorexia may be due to a lower body mass index (BMI).
The study team stressed the importance of early treatment to help people with anorexia nervosa avoid long-term structural changes in the brain. Current therapies generally include forms of cognitive behavioral therapy, mainly weight gain. Many people with anorexia are treated successfully and these results show the positive effect of this treatment on the structure of the brain.
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