The impact of starvation on brain morphology and function in eating disorders

  • W. Schreiber
  • C. Laver
  • K. M. Pirke
  • H. M. Emrich
  • G. Leinsinger
  • E. A. Moser
  • J. C. Krieg


Brain imaging in psychiatry as well as in other medical fields aims at solving two fundamental problems:
  1. 1.

    Identification of structural alterations such as local or global atrophy.

  2. 2.

    Identification of functional alterations, for example of the regional cerebral blood flow or of metabolism.


Eating disorders, i.e. anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are characterized by continuous or intermittent fasting as a common means of losing weight. The question therefore arises whether the state of starvation can be held responsible for morphological and functional alterations found in both disorders. Pneumoencephalographic examinations, first carried out on dystrophic patients after years of war captivity, revealed a frequent enlargement of the anterior horns of the lateral ventricles, the anterior part of the cella media, the third ventricle and the external cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces of the frontal area, presumably as a consequence of a brain edema due to protein depletion (1, 2). Comparable observations were made when investigating anorectic patients by means of post mortem autopsy (3), pneumoencephalography (4, 5) or cranial computed tomography (CCT) (6–15).


Anorexia Nervosa Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Regional Cerebral Blood Flow Ideal Body Weight 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Schreiber
  • C. Laver
  • K. M. Pirke
  • H. M. Emrich
  • G. Leinsinger
  • E. A. Moser
  • J. C. Krieg

There are no affiliations available

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