MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Guido K.W. Frank, M.D., FAED
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Associate Director, Eating Disorder Program
Director, Developmental Brain Research Program
Pediatric Mental Health Institute | Children’s Hospital | University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Colorado
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that primarily affects young females and is associated with high mortality. The diagnostic criteria include restriction of energy intake that leads to significantly low body weight and an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. The etiology of anorexia nervosa is complex, and only recently have we begun to better understand its underlying neurobiology. Brain scans of anorexia nervosa patients have implicated brain reward circuits in the disease, brain regions that govern food intake. On the other hand, how much we eat also affects over time reward system response and eating too much or too little has important implications on brain reward function.
Previous studies from our lab as well as basic science research suggest that underweight is associated with heightened reward system response. In this study wanted to test whether we would find heightened brain activity in adolescents with anorexia nervosa and whether this would normalize once the patient regained weight.