Correlates & Mediators of Psychopathology
An fMRI investigation of emotional processing of body shape in bulimia nervosa
Article first published online: 10 FEB 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
International Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume 45, Issue 1, pages 17–25, January 2012
How to Cite
Spangler, D. L. and Allen, M. D. (2012), An fMRI investigation of emotional processing of body shape in bulimia nervosa. Int. J. Eat. Disord., 45: 17–25. doi: 10.1002/eat.20899
- Issue published online: 14 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 10 FEB 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 SEP 2010
- Marjorie Pay Hinckley Endowment from Brigham Young University
- body image;
- body shape;
- bulimia nervosa;
- self reflection;
- medial prefrontal cortex
Cognitive-behavioral theories of eating disorder etiology emphasize the role of body-oriented self-schemas. Examination of brain regions associated with self-referencing, such as medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), during processing of body-related stimuli can thus be utilized to evaluate such theories.
Twelve women with bulima nervosa (BN) and 12 comparison women underwent functional brain imaging while viewing images of women with either thin or overweight bodies in a self-referencing context.
For thin bodies, there was no significant mPFC activation for either group. For overweight bodies, mPFC activation was significantly greater for BN patients, with a focus in subregions associated with emotional processing.
These findings are consistent with cognitive models of eating disorders which posit that negative body-related stimuli are more central to self-schemas and more emotionally provocative in persons with eating disorders, lending support to treatment and prevention interventions that emphasize body overvaluation as a primary target of change. © 2011 by Wiley Periodicals,Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)