Objective: Behavioral and personality characteristics associated with excessive inhibition and disinhibition are observed in patients with eating disorders, but neural correlates of inhibitory control have not been examined in adolescents with these disorders.
Method: Thirteen female adolescents with binge eating and purging behaviors (i.e., bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa, binge eating/purging type);14 with anorexia nervosa, restricting type; and 13 healthy comparison subjects performed a rapid, jittered event-related go/no-go task. Functional magnetic resonance images were collected using a 3 Tesla GE scanner and a spiral pulse sequence. A whole-brain three-group analysis of variance in SPM5 was used to identify significant activation associated with the main effect of group for the comparison of correct no-go versus go trials. The mean activation in these clusters was extracted for further comparisons in SPSS.
Results: The binge eating/purging group showed significantly greater activation than the healthy comparison group in the bilateral precentral gyri, anterior cingulate cortex, and middle and superior temporal gyri as well as greater activation relative to both comparison and restricting type anorexia subjects in the hypothalamus and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Within-group analysis found that only the restricting type anorexia group showed a positive correlation between the percent correct on no-go trials and activation in posterior visual and inferior parietal cortex regions.
Conclusions: The present study provides preliminary evidence that during adolescence, eating disorder subtypes may be distinguishable in terms of neural correlates of inhibitory control. This distinction is consistent with differences in behavioral impulsivity in these patient groups.