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Our brains on food: From anorexia to obesity and everything in between
Date:4/3/2012

CHICAGO, IL April 3, 2012 The brains of people with anorexia and obesity are wired differently, according to new research. Neuroscientists for the first time have found that how our brains respond to food differs across a spectrum of eating behaviors from extreme overeating to food deprivation. This study is one of several new approaches to help better understand and ultimately treat eating disorders and obesity.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. And more than two-thirds of the U.S. population are overweight or obese a health factor associated with cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and cancer. "This body of work not only increases our understanding of the relationship between food and brain function but can also inform weight loss programs," says Laura Martin of Hoglund Brain Imaging Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center, one of several researchers whose work being presented today at a meeting of cognitive neuroscientists in Chicago.

"One of the most intriguing aspects of these studies of the brain on food," Martin says, is that they show "consistent activations of reward areas of the brain that are also implicated in studies of addiction." However, how those reward areas respond to food differs between people depending on their eating behaviors, according to the new brain imaging study by Laura Holsen of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital and colleagues.

Holsen's team conducted fMRI brain scans of individuals with one of three eating conditions anorexia nervosa, simple obesity, and Prader-Willi syndrome (extreme obesity) as well as healthy control subjects. When hungry, those with anorexia, who severely restrict their food intake, showed substantially decreased responses to various pictures of food in regions of their brains associated with reward and pleasure. For those who chronically overeat, there were significantly increased responses in those same brai
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Contact: Lisa M.P. Munoz
cns.publicaffairs@gmail.com
703-951-7331
Cognitive Neuroscience Society
Source:Eurekalert

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