A bigger brain is linked to a bigger risk of anorexia in teen girls. The new research comes from a team at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine.
Dr. Guido Frank and his colleagues compared the brains of teen girls with anorexia nervosa and the brains of girls who didn’t have the condition.
The girls with anorexia actually had two different regions of the brain that were larger than the control group — an area that becomes active when you taste food and a second area that tells a person when to stop eating.
Dr. Frank speculated that having a bigger brain might actually allow the person to develop the power to starve themselves.
He noted that eating disorders like anorexia are frequently triggered by the environment. However, biological factors might have to be in place too for the disease to express itself.
The studies were done on living teenage girls using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the size of the brain.
The part of the brain that tells you to stop eating is called the medial orbitofrontal cortex. It’s supposed to signal you to stop when you’ve had enough. However, it’s enlarged in the anorexic girls — a hint that it may signal the teens to stop too soon.
There’s a big concern with the obesity epidemic these days. However, eating disorders like anorexia and bigorexia haven’t gone away.
It would be interesting to see if the link between larger brains and anorexia also existed in young men.
The new findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology. The research was inspired by a previous study that found adults with anorexia had bigger brains than normal adults.
[anorexia photo by Sylvie Bouchard via Shutterstock]