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Keywords:

  • neuroimaging;
  • voxel-based morphometry;
  • anorexia nervosa;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • systematic review

Abstract

This systematic review summarises and critically appraises the literature on structural magnetic resonance imaging in people with a current or past eating disorder. Studies using voxel-based morphometry image analysis were included. Ten studies reported on a total of 236 people with a current or past eating disorder and 257 healthy controls. Sample heterogeneity prohibited a meta-analytic approach. The findings do not unequivocally indicate grey or white matter volume abnormalities in people with an eating disorder. Nevertheless, these preliminary data suggest that, compared with healthy controls, people with anorexia nervosa have decreased grey matter in a range of brain regions and that those with bulimia nervosa have increased grey matter volumes in frontal and ventral striatal areas. Research in the recovery phase and longitudinal studies suggest that potential brain tissue abnormalities may recover with clinical improvement. Overall, as the available data are inconclusive, further efforts in this field are warranted. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.