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Anorexia nervosa is linked to reduced brain structure in reward and somatosensory regions: a meta-analysis of VBM studies

Olga E Titova, Olof C Hjorth, Helgi B Schiöth and Samantha J Brooks*

Author Affiliations

Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Box 593, Husargatan 3, Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:110  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-110

Published: 9 April 2013



Structural imaging studies demonstrate brain tissue abnormalities in eating disorders, yet a quantitative analysis has not been done.


In global and regional meta-analyses of 9 voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies, with a total of 228 eating disorder participants (currently ill with anorexia nervosa), and 240 age-matched healthy controls, we compare brain volumes using global and regional analyses.


Anorexia nervosa (AN) patients have global reductions in gray (effect size = −0.66) and white matter (effect size = −0.74) and increased cerebrospinal fluid (effect size = 0.98) and have regional decreases in left hypothalamus, left inferior parietal lobe, right lentiform nucleus and right caudate, and no significant increases. No significant difference in hemispheric lateralization was found.


Global and regional meta-analyses suggest that excessive restrained eating as found in those with anorexia nervosa coincides with structural brain changes analogous to clinical symptoms.

VBM; ALE; Anorexia nervosa; Gray matter; White matter; Cerebrospinal fluid