Abnormal brain development in children with bulimia

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USA) have children Suffering from bulimia (BED) has an increased proportion of gray matter density, which indicates abnormal brain development.

“Children with bulimia have abnormalities in brain development in areas of the brain that are particularly related to reward and impulsivity, or the ability to inhibit reward,” said Stuart Murray, lead author at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. I am.

“These children have a very high reward sensitivity, especially for high-carbohydrate foods that are high in calories. The findings emphasize the fact that this is not a lack of discipline in these children. I am. “

Murray and his team analyzed MRI brain scans of 71 children aged 9-10 years and 74 children of the same age unconditionally suffering from bulimia.

The team focuses on areas of the brain related to reward and impulsivity, and of children Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) contains nodes that reward the taste. In addition, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has areas that suppress impulses and control.

All children were asked to self-respond to a 24-item behavioral suppression system / behavioral activation system scale (BIS / BAS scale) to assess their association with possible brain differences in overeating behavior. I did.

Scale measurement Participant’s tendency towards goal-oriented hedonistic pursuits, and self-restraint by BIS, keep participants’ goals away from unpleasant things such as “worried about making mistakes,” and the BAS scale says “when I see.” It is aimed at desirable things such as. Opportunity for what I like, I’m excited soon. “

For children with BED, the team found elevated levels of gray matter density in areas that needed to be “pruned” as part of their developmental process.

Pruning is a natural stage of brain developmentAs the child grows, gray matter systematically diminishes across specific areas, removing connection points between neurons that are no longer used for efficiency.

However, children with BED had increased densities of gray brain material in areas related to decision-making such as impulse regulation, behavioral suppression, and DLPFC. Superior frontal gyrus And that Anterior cingulate cortex..

In addition, small clusters of increased gray matter density were also found in OFC. This includes areas that respond to food rewards.

When associating brain development with behavior, the team found that developmental disabilities in children with BED were negatively associated with BAS scores, which measure hedonistic pursuits. This means that children with BED are less responsive to rewards than the average child.

The authors theorized that the behavior of children in BED was motivated by a lack of self-control, not by the reward of eating. Echoed behavior in an adult study using BED.

The authors could not find an exact relationship between chaotic behavior and brain structure, but this study suggests to me that “from a very young age, bulimia nervosa is linked to the brain.” I am. “

“The question we don’t know that we’ll be working on in time is whether successful treatment of bulimia nervosa in children helps correct brain development. Almost everything that can be treated in childhood. The prognosis for mental illness is good. “

Nonetheless, the authors “to better elucidate how these associations relate to BED psychopathology” to determine the relationship between structural features and brain activity in disorders. They concluded that their findings “needed further investigation.”

Marina Chan


Marina Chan is based in Melbourne and focuses on Australian news. Contact her at [email protected]