I think we've all asked this question before: can anorexia be predicted?
Several researchers are beginning to look into this more thoroughly. This week, new research on the predictability of anorexia through subtle differences in brain development in children will be revealed at the Institute of London, according to UK paper, The Guardian.
Researchers tested more than 200 people in the UK, US, and Norway who had anorexia. The majority were girls between the ages of 12 and 25, currently receiving treatment.
Through in-depth neuropsychological testing, " they found that about 70% of the patients had suffered damage to their neurotransmitters, which help brain cells communicate with each other, had undergone subtle changes in the structure of their brains, or both."
The researchers go on to say that these results are random and not based on other factors such as the environmental chemicals or poor maternal diet. They also believe that "Imperfect wiring in the brain's insular cortex that may lead to dyslexia, ADHD or depression in other children produces what he calls "an underlying vulnerability" among some young people that makes them more likely to develop anorexia."
The significance of this study is that it can give better understanding to eating disorders as well as to possibly pave a new path for drug treatment, an area of research which has currently been unsuccessful for treating eating disorders. This also takes some of the blame off of parents for causing their child's eating disorder.
Another interesting point made in this study is the implications of the insular cortex. Research has already shown that the insular cortex is involved in a variety of neuropsychiatric illnesses. The insular cortex was also implicated in a study looking at a sense of taste among women with anorexia. There, researchers found that the women who had recovered from anorexia showed differences in processing taste, especially in the feeling of pleasantness/reward of foods, compared to normal controls who never had anorexia.
Stay tuned as this is some interesting research.
Note--I'm hoping the researchers will go more into detail about their "neuropsychological" testing. If more information is presented, I'll update the post as needed.