Pilot study: is the fear response the same in anorexia nervosa as in controls?

  • C. Laird Birmingham
  • Shelley Sidhu
  • John Anderson
Original Article



To determine whether the fear response is the same in AN as in controls.


We recorded the EEG in 10 participants with a history of AN and in 10 controls during a fear stimulus. The response of the brain was recorded using EEG LORETA. The recording was analyzed for a marked increase in activity in the amygdala, uncus, insula, and anterior cingulate from 300 to 500 ms following the stimulus.


The order or response of the amygdala, uncus, insula, and anterior cingulate was not significantly different in AN and controls.


These results suggest that the brain’s response to a fear stimulus is not significantly different in AN and controls.

Level of evidence

Level 3, case-control study.


Anorexia nervosa Amygdala Insula Anterior cingulate Uncus EEG Fear/aversion stimulus 



Funding for the project was attained from a student grant from the University of British Columbia that helped offset some of the time spent on the research by Shelley Sidhu, the second author. There are no other significant contributors to this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Minnesota Neurotherapy InstituteSaint Louis ParkUSA

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