Hemodynamic responses in prefrontal cortex and personality characteristics in patients with bulimic disorders: a near-infrared spectroscopy study

  • Noriko NumataEmail author
  • Yoshiyuki Hirano
  • Chihiro Sutoh
  • Daisuke Matsuzawa
  • Kotaro Takeda
  • Rikukage Setsu
  • Eiji Shimizu
  • Michiko Nakazato
Original Article



This study sought to identify the prefrontal cortex hemodynamic response that is dependent on cognitive performance in patients with bulimic disorders (BD), and investigate its association with personality characteristics.


Nineteen female patients with BD and 23 healthy women were recruited. Their personality characteristics related to eating disorders were examined using a self-reporting questionnaire, namely the eating disorder inventory-2 (EDI-2). Cerebral blood flow response in the prefrontal cortex during the digit span backward task (DSBT) was measured using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Change in oxygenated hemoglobin concentration (ΔoxyHb), obtained using NIRS, were used as an index of brain activity. Further, the relationship between prefrontal cortical activity and personality characteristics was investigated in patients with BD.


The cognitive performance of patients with BD was significantly lower in the DSBT compared with healthy subjects. There was no difference between the groups in ΔoxyHb during the task. Task scores of patients with BD correlated with asceticism and perfectionism. Moreover, the asceticism score was negatively correlated with ΔoxyHb of the bilateral prefrontal cortex in patients with BD.


The results suggest that cognitive performance and brain activity induced during DSBT might be affected by asceticism in BD patients.

Level of evidence

III, case-control study.


Bulimia nervosa Binge eating disorder Asceticism Oxyhemoglobin Cognitive function 



The study was supported by grants from JSPS KAKENHI (Grant numbers JP25461750 and JP15H05359). This work was also supported by the Academic Contributions from Pfizer Japan Inc.

Author contributions

NN, SC, and YH designed the project and DM and KT prepared and provided the NIRS data. NN performed the experiment and collected the data. YH and NN analyzed the data. NN and YH drafted the manuscript. MN, ES, and RS supervised the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants

All procedures performed for experiments involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Institutional Ethics Committee of the Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine approved this study.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noriko Numata
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yoshiyuki Hirano
    • 1
  • Chihiro Sutoh
    • 2
  • Daisuke Matsuzawa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kotaro Takeda
    • 3
  • Rikukage Setsu
    • 2
  • Eiji Shimizu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michiko Nakazato
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Center for Child Mental DevelopmentChiba UniversityChibaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Cognitive Behavioral Physiology, Graduate School of MedicineChiba UniversityChibaJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of Rehabilitation, School of Health SciencesFujita Health UniversityToyoakeJapan
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, Graduate School of MedicineChiba UniversityChibaJapan

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