Brain scans to identify if brain disorders are being ignored in doctors
If you have anorexia, binge eating or obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may want to think twice about your health.
Brain scans could help diagnose the condition, experts say.
Dr. Richard Schoenfeld, an associate professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, said the scans could provide clues about whether your brain might be damaged in these disorders.
In a new study published online on May 23 in the journal Brain and Behavior, Schoenfield and his colleagues scanned the brains of people with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder and compared their brain scans to those of people without either disorder.
The researchers found that the scans revealed more activity in areas of the brain associated with reward, motivation and control.
Schoenfeld and his team also asked participants to imagine that they had eaten a food that they could not stop eating because it was too delicious.
In addition, they asked participants about their current eating habits, their relationship with their friends and their overall level of happiness.
The participants who had bulimic tendencies were less likely to say they would continue eating because they thought it was disgusting, or that they thought they would feel guilty eating certain foods.
In the binge-eating group, participants who thought they had a food craving but were not eating because of it had less activity in these areas of their brain, compared with those who did not have a craving for food at all.
The results are consistent with people who experience eating disorders being unable to stop eating and who may be less likely than others to develop food cravings, Schönfeld said.
The findings could be useful in diagnosing the disorder, said neuroscientist and study co-author Dr. Sarah Wasserstrom.
“It’s not that we don’t want to know more about how these brain regions are involved,” Wasserstrein said.
“But this could give us an indication of what’s going on in the brain in terms of motivation and how they work.
And this could help us develop more effective therapies to help these people recover.”
Schoenfield hopes the research will lead to better treatments for these disorders and help people understand what they are experiencing, whether or not their symptoms are actually causing them distress.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
For more health news, visit NBCNews.com’s health and science section.
Follow NBCNewsHealth on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.