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Neural Correlates Found for Addictive Eating Behavior

Patterns similar to those associated with substance dependence

TUESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Addictive-like eating behavior appears to be linked with neural activation patterns similar to those seen in substance dependence, according to research published online April 4 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Ashley N. Gearhardt, of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted magnetic resonance imaging in 48 healthy young women ranging from lean to obese to examine neural correlates for addictive-like eating behavior.

The researchers found a correlation between food addiction scores and greater activity in the anterior cingulated cortex, medial orbitofrontal cortex, and amygdala in anticipation of receiving food. Patients with higher food addiction scores -- as opposed to lower scores -- showed more activity in the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex and caudate in anticipation of receiving food, and less activity in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex in response to receiving food.

"Similar patterns of neural activation are implicated in addictive-like eating behavior and substance dependence: elevated activation in reward circuitry in response to food cues and reduced activation of inhibitory regions in response to food intake," the authors write.

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