Processing of Food, Body and Emotional Stimuli in Anorexia Nervosa: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies


Paul Enck, Department of Internal Medicine VI: Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tuebingen, Frondsbergstr. 23, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany. Tel: +49 7071 29-89118; Fax: +49 7071 29-4382.



The characteristics of the cognitive processing of food, body and emotional information in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) are debatable. We reviewed functional magnetic resonance imaging studies to assess whether there were consistent neural basis and networks in the studies to date. Searching PubMed, Ovid, Web of Science, The Cochrane Library and Google Scholar between January 1980 and May 2012, we identified 17 relevant studies. Activation likelihood estimation was used to perform a quantitative meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. For both food stimuli and body stimuli, AN patients showed increased hemodynamic response in the emotion-related regions (frontal, caudate, uncus, insula and temporal) and decreased activation in the parietal region. Although no robust brain activation has been found in response to emotional stimuli, emotion-related neural networks are involved in the processing of food and body stimuli among AN. It suggests that negative emotional arousal is related to cognitive processing bias of food and body stimuli in AN. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.