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Altered Neural Circuitry May Contribute To Anorexia And Bulimia

By: Marissa Maldonado On: 06-26-2013 Category: Eating Disorders

Earlier this month, experts identified the connection between eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia and altered neural circuitry.

What does that mean? Well, researchers believe that the restricted or uncontrollable eating that indicate the various types of eating disorders is directly linked to what is happening to a certain part of the brain. More specifically, the area of our brain that is responsible for appetite.

To diagnose someone with anorexia or bulimia, there are lists of symptoms used that generally include behaviors and mindsets, not neural circuitry.

Insula Part Of The Brain

The insula is the part of our brain where taste is sensed. It then connects with the reward system to create the pleasure we experience when we eat yummy foods. The insula is what tells you whether you are currently hungry or full.

We now know that the right anterior insula of the brain in someone suffering from anorexia has a much lower response to sugar, or sucrose, and those suffering from bulimia have a heightened response to sucrose.

Give that some thought.

If you have a strong reaction to sugar, then you don’t care to eat as much as someone who has a lower adverse reaction. And, when the part of your brain that tells you hungry or full doesn’t function the way it was constructed to, your ability to gauge the need for food.

Brain Signals

If your brain is sending signals to eat, you feel like you need to eat. You eat more than you may want to, and then feel guilty and purge. Bulimia.

If your brain is telling you not to eat, you don’t feel that you need to and you may restrict or starve yourself even though your body needs nourishment. Anorexia.

The benefit of identifying the insula and how it affects, and shows us, these eating disorders, is that we can better treat the people who cannot control their eating behaviors on their own.

Prevention and treatment can save lives.

Post by: Marissa Maldonado

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