Restricted food intake is associated with increased physical activity, very likely an evolutionary advantage, initially both functional and rewarding. The hyperactivity of patients with anorexia nervosa, however, is a main problem for recovery. This seemingly paradoxical reward of hyperactivity in anorexia nervosa is one of the main aspects in our framework for the neurobiological changes that may underlie the development of the disorder. Here, we focus on the neurobiological basis of hyperactivity and reward in both animals and humans suggesting that the mesolimbic dopamine and hypothalamic orexin neurons play central roles. The paper represents an invited review by a symposium, award winner or keynote speaker at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior [SSIB] Annual Meeting in Portland, July 2009.
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