New insights into symptoms and neurocircuit function of anorexia nervosa

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Aug;10(8):573-84. doi: 10.1038/nrn2682. Epub 2009 Jul 15.


Individuals with anorexia nervosa have a relentless preoccupation with dieting and weight loss that results in severe emaciation and sometimes death. It is controversial whether such symptoms are secondary to psychosocial influences, are a consequence of obsessions and anxiety or reflect a primary disturbance of brain appetitive circuits. New brain imaging technology provides insights into ventral and dorsal neural circuit dysfunction - perhaps related to altered serotonin and dopamine metabolism - that contributes to the puzzling symptoms found in people with eating disorders. For example, altered insula activity could explain interoceptive dysfunction, and altered striatal activity might shed light on altered reward modulation in people with anorexia nervosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anorexia Nervosa / pathology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • Serotonin / metabolism


  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine