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Aug 26, 2013 11:10 AM EDT

People Suffering From Anorexia Nervosa have Larger Brains, Study

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People suffering from the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, have bigger brains  compared to people who do not suffer from the same disorder, according to a new study conducted by researchers from University of Colorado's School of Medicine. The study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Dr. Guido Frank, lead researcher MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at CU School of Medicine, said that larger brains might be the reason why anorexics have the ability to go hungry.

"While eating disorders are often triggered by the environment, there are most likely biological mechanisms that have to come together for an individual to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa," said Dr. Frank.

Researchers arrived at the conclusion after analyzing the data of 19 teenage girls who were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and 22 girls with no such disorder. They also used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study brain volumes.

They found that anorexic girls revealed a larger insula, a part of the brain that is triggered while tasting food and a greater orbit frontal cortex- a brain region that signals people when to stop eating.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they also discovered that girls with anorexia nervosa showed more matter in the left orbitofrontal, right insular, and bilateral temporal cortex compared to girls from the other group.

The findings thus suggest that larger insula and orbit frontal cortex might be the reasons why anorexic people feel that they are on the heavier side, despite being underweight. It also makes such individuals stop eating much earlier than healthier individuals.

Experts believe genes and hormones can play a vital role in triggering this disorder. Social attitudes encouraging thin bodies are also known to shove people into this condition, according to Medline Plus.

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