Altered brain activity in women recovered from bulimic-type eating disorders after a glucose challenge: A pilot study

Guido K. Frank, Angela Wagner, Sarah Achenbach, Claire McConaha, Kellie Skovira, Howard Aizenstein, Cameron S Carter, Walter H. Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Objective: It is not known whether individuals with bulimic-type eating disorders have a dysregulation of brain pathways that modulate appetite. Taste plays a role in the regulation of appetite and the purpose of the current study was to determine whether bulimic women have alterations in the physiologic response to the blind administration of glucose. Method: To avoid the confounding effects of a current eating disorder, and to assess possibly trait-related disturbances, we studied 10 subjects recovered (≥1 year) from a bulimic-type eating disorder and 6 control women. Subjects were administered a solution of glucose or artificial saliva (control solution) in alternating blocks during a functional magnet resonance imaging scan. Results: Individuals who recovered from a bulimic-type eating disorder had significantly lower activation in the right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC; Montreal Neurological Institute [MNI] coordinates x = 8, y = 22, z = 28; cluster size = 18 voxels, T = 5.11, Z-score = 3.78) and in the left cuneus (occipital cortex; MNI coordinates x = -12, y = -78, z = 10; cluster size = 21 voxels, T = 4.27, Z-score = 3.36), when glucose was compared with artificial saliva. Conclusion: The ACC plays a role in the anticipation of reward. Individuals with bulimic-type eating disorders may have a reduced reward response to nutrients, and thus may be vulnerable to overeating. However, this is a small sample and the current study will need replication in a larger sample size with investigation of additional regions of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-79
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Appetite
  • Brain pathways
  • Bulimic-type eating disorder
  • Overeating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Food Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology


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