Last updated on March 2018

Neural Correlates of Reward and Symptom Expression in Anorexia Nervosa


Brief description of study

The objective of this study is to identify the patterns of brain activity in reward circuitry that promote symptoms of anorexia nervosa. This project will compare weight-restored individuals with anorexia nervosa to a non-eating disorder control group on reward brain circuitry patterns in response to typically rewarding cues (i.e., entertaining videos) and disorder-specific restrictive eating cues (i.e., low-fat food choice) using fMRI. In addition, this study will examine which neurobiological reward responses among weight-restored individuals with anorexia nervosa predict objective restrictive eating (measured by laboratory meal intake) and longitudinal risk of relapse one year later.

Detailed Study Description

Aim 1: To compare patterns of brain activity in reward circuits to typically rewarding cues and disorder-specific cues between weight-restored individuals with anorexia nervosa and non-eating disorder controls

Hypothesis 1a: Activity in reward circuitry will be elevated in response to typically rewarding cues in the non-eating disorder control group versus weight-restored anorexia nervosa group.

Hypothesis 1b: Activity in reward circuitry will be elevated in response to disorder-specific in the weight-restored anorexia nervosa group versus the non-eating disorder control group.

Aim 2: To specify the relationship between brain patterns related to reward and restrictive eating among weight-restored individuals with anorexia nervosa

Hypothesis 2a: Lower reward circuit activity in response to typically rewarding cues will predict lower test meal intake for weight-restored anorexia nervosa group versus the non-eating disorder control group.

Hypothesis 2b: Higher reward circuit activity in response to disorder-specific cues will predict lower test meal intake for the weight-restored anorexia nervosa group versus the non-eating disorder control group.

Aim 3: To identify the brain patterns in reward circuitry associated with the risk of relapse among weight-restored individuals with anorexia nervosa in the year following weight-restoration.

Hypothesis 3a: Lower reward circuit activity in response to typically rewarding cues will predict relapse in the weight-restored anorexia nervosa group.

Hypothesis 3b: Higher reward circuit activity in response to disorder-specific cues will predict relapse in the weight-restored anorexia nervosa group.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03275545

Contact Investigators or Research Sites near you

Start Over

Ann Haynos, PhD

University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN United States
  Connect »