Objective: Converging evidence suggests a role for the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa (AN). This study sought to determine whether ACC volume was affected by starvation in active AN and, if so, whether this had any clinical significance.
Method: Eighteen patients with active AN and age- and gender-matched normal controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Sixteen patients (89%) with AN had intelligence quotients (IQ) testing at intake, 14 (78%) had repeat MRIs after weight normalization, and 10 (56%) had outcome data at 1-year posthospitalization.
Results: Right dorsal ACC volume was significantly reduced in active AN patients versus controls and was correlated with lower performance IQ. While ACC normalization occurred with weight restoration, smaller change in right dorsal ACC volume prospectively predicted relapse after treatment.
Conclusion: Reduced right dorsal ACC volume during active AN relates to deficits in perceptual organization and conceptual reasoning. The degree of right dorsal ACC normalization during treatment is related to outcome.