Anorexia As An Eating Disorder

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Anorexia Nervosa, commonly called anorexia, is one of the most dangerous eating disorders. It is where individuals relentlessly starve themselves to pursue their ideal body image, which is to be thin. In doing so they starve their body from obtaining vital nutrients. There are a lot of factors that play into the disorder whether it be external influences from society’s ideals and even internal biological factors. A few characteristics of anorexia are distorted body image, fear of gaining weight, starvation, etc.

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The article, “Dopaminergic activity and altered reward modulation in anorexia nervosa-insight from multimodal imaging,” studies twelve females who have recovered from anorexia. The researchers scanned the participant’s brain using PET and fMRI to indicate an involvement of the middle and dorsal caudate. This study focused on the dopamine receptor (D2/D3) binding to the caudate which is associated with anxiety, harm avoidance, and BOLD (blood-oxygen-level-dependent). They used post hoc analyses of each brain scans to determine if BOLD results correlate with D2/D3 binding in the regions.

The researchers tested two different methods to prove their hypothesis, do individuals suffering/ have suffered from anorexia nervosa display altered dopamine activity in the brain? In their first study, they simply did posthoc analyses of the PET and fMRI scans. They discovered an increased binding of DA2/DA3 from recovered individuals to their control group. This showed a positive correlation between anxiety and self-harm avoidance in the binding region. In their second study, they used an fMRI while participants were answering a monetary choice task. The result of this test was that recovered individuals showed a greater BOLD response, a positive relationship between anxiety and change in the dorsal caudate, and they failed to show a differential response to negative and positive feedback in comparison to the control group.

What I would like to see done differently with this specific study is to have a larger sample. In this version of the study, they only studied a group of twelve females who recovered from anorexia. If they had a larger sample their results would have shown a much stronger positive correlation which would have supported the results of their experiment better. Also, I think it would be good to have a third group of individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa. It would be interesting to compare the varying levels of severity between recovered individuals and those who are struggling with anorexia. I think it would also be good to add a third study similar to the second, instead of monetary decisions it focuses more on the body image questions/decisions and obtain results from the scans.

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