Chapter

Behavioral Neurobiology of Eating Disorders

Volume 6 of the series Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences pp 125-138

Date:

Neural Circuits, Neurotransmitters, and Behavior

Serotonin and Temperament in Bulimic Syndromes
  • Howard SteigerAffiliated withEating Disorders Program, Douglas University InstituteDepartment of Psychiatry, McGill UniversityDepartment of Psychology, McGill University Email author 
  • , Kenneth R. BruceAffiliated withEating Disorders Program, Douglas University InstituteDepartment of Psychiatry, McGill UniversityDepartment of Psychology, McGill University
  • , Patricia GroleauAffiliated withEating Disorders Program, Douglas University InstituteDepartment of Psychiatry, McGill UniversityDepartment of Psychology, McGill University

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Abstract

In bulimia nervosa (BN), and in related binge–purge syndromes, factors affecting central serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) function appear to contribute not only to appetitive dysregulation but also to temperamental and personality manifestations. Drawing upon findings from neurobiological, molecular-genetic, and brain-imaging studies, we present an integrative model of the role of 5-HT function in bulimic syndromes. At the core of our model is a consideration of the ways in which diverse hereditary and environmental influences impact the action of the 5-HT system. We believe that our model helps account for heterogeneous traits seen in the bulimic population, for disproportionate representation of individuals displaying pathological personality traits and exposure to severe environmental stressors, and for interindividual variations as to treatment response.

Keywords

Bulimia Genes Gene–environment interactions Personality traits Serotonin Temperament