HealthDay News — Body mass index seems to modulate prediction error and food intake control circuitry in the brain in individuals with eating disorders, according to a study published online June 30 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Guido K.W. Frank, M.D., from the University of California at San Diego, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional functional brain imaging study involving young adults across the eating disorder spectrum who were matched to healthy controls (197 and 120 female participants, respectively). Violations of learned associations between conditioned visual and unconditioned taste stimuli evoked the dopamine-related prediction error during a sucrose taste classic conditioning paradigm. During expected sweet taste receipt, dynamic effective connectivity was studied to examine hierarchical brain activation between brain regions relevant to food intake.

The researchers found that participants with anorexia nervosa had elevated prediction error response. Among those with eating disorders, prediction error response was inversely correlated with body mass index, eating disorder inventory-3 binge eating tendency, and trait anxiety. A positive correlation was seen for ventral striatal hypothalamus-directed connectivity with ventral striatal prediction error in eating disorders, and a negative correlation was seen with feeling out of control after eating.


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“The study provides a model for how behavioral traits promote eating problems and changes in body mass index, and how eating disorder behaviors, anxiety, mood, and brain neurobiology interact to reinforce the vicious cycle of eating disorders, making recovery very difficult,” Frank said in a statement.

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