Background: Previous Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies of people with anorexia nervosa (AN) have shown differences in brain structure. This study aimed to provide preliminary extensions of this data by examining how different levels of appetitive restraint impact on brain volume.
Methods: Voxel based morphometry (VBM), corrected for total intracranial volume, age, BMI, years of education in 14 women with AN (8 RAN and 6 BPAN) and 21 women (HC) was performed. Correlations between brain volume and dietary restraint were done using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).
Results: Increased right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and reduced right anterior insular cortex, bilateral parahippocampal gyrus, left fusiform gyrus, left cerebellum and right posterior cingulate volumes in AN compared to HC. RAN compared to BPAN had reduced left orbitofrontal cortex, right anterior insular cortex, bilateral parahippocampal gyrus and left cerebellum. Age negatively correlated with right DLPFC volume in HC but not in AN; dietary restraint and BMI predicted 57% of variance in right DLPFC volume in AN.
Conclusions: In AN, brain volume differences were found in appetitive, somatosensory and top-down control brain regions. Differences in regional GMV may be linked to levels of appetitive restraint, but whether they are state or trait is unclear. Nevertheless, these discrete brain volume differences provide candidate brain regions for further structural and functional study in people with eating disorders.