Hunger and satiety in anorexia nervosa: fMRI during cognitive processing of food pictures

Brain Res. 2006 Oct 9;1114(1):138-48. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.07.045. Epub 2006 Aug 17.


Neuroimaging studies of visually presented food stimuli in patients with anorexia nervosa have demonstrated decreased activations in inferior parietal and visual occipital areas, and increased frontal activations relative to healthy persons, but so far no inferences could be drawn with respect to the influence of hunger or satiety. Thirteen patients with AN and 10 healthy control subjects (aged 13-21) rated visual food and non-food stimuli for pleasantness during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a hungry and a satiated state. AN patients rated food as less pleasant than controls. When satiated, AN patients showed decreased activation in left inferior parietal cortex relative to controls. When hungry, AN patients displayed weaker activation of the right visual occipital cortex than healthy controls. Food stimuli during satiety compared with hunger were associated with stronger right occipital activation in patients and with stronger activation in left lateral orbitofrontal cortex, the middle portion of the right anterior cingulate, and left middle temporal gyrus in controls. The observed group differences in the fMRI activation to food pictures point to decreased food-related somatosensory processing in AN during satiety and to attentional mechanisms during hunger that might facilitate restricted eating in AN.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anorexia Nervosa / pathology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Satiation / physiology*


  • Oxygen