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Neural correlates of eating disorders: translational potential

Authors McAdams C, Smith W

Received 2 May 2015

Accepted for publication 30 June 2015

Published 1 September 2015 Volume 2015:4 Pages 35—49

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S76699

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Annabel Chen


Carrie J McAdams,1,2 Whitney Smith1

1University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center, 2Department of Psychiatry, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Dallas, TX, USA

Abstract: Eating disorders are complex and serious psychiatric illnesses whose etiology includes psychological, biological, and social factors. Treatment of eating disorders is challenging as there are few evidence-based treatments and limited understanding of the mechanisms that result in sustained recovery. In the last 20 years, we have begun to identify neural pathways that are altered in eating disorders. Consideration of how these pathways may contribute to an eating disorder can provide an understanding of expected responses to treatments. Eating disorder behaviors include restrictive eating, compulsive overeating, and purging behaviors after eating. Eating disorders are associated with changes in many neural systems. In this targeted review, we focus on three cognitive processes associated with neurocircuitry differences in subjects with eating disorders such as reward, decision-making, and social behavior. We briefly examine how each of these systems function in healthy people, using Neurosynth meta-analysis to identify key regions commonly implicated in these circuits. We review the evidence for disruptions of these regions and systems in eating disorders. Finally, we describe psychiatric and psychological treatments that are likely to function by impacting these regions.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, social cognition, reward processing, decision-making

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