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Psychiatry Journal
Volume 2016, Article ID 1795901, 13 pages
Research Article

Enhanced Early Neuronal Processing of Food Pictures in Anorexia Nervosa: A Magnetoencephalography Study

1Oxford Brain-Body Research into Eating Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK
2Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK

Received 29 February 2016; Revised 15 May 2016; Accepted 19 June 2016

Academic Editor: Veit Roessner

Copyright © 2016 Lauren R. Godier et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Neuroimaging studies in Anorexia Nervosa (AN) have shown increased activation in reward and cognitive control regions in response to food, and a behavioral attentional bias (AB) towards food stimuli is reported. This study aimed to further investigate the neural processing of food using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Participants were 13 females with restricting-type AN, 14 females recovered from restricting-type AN, and 15 female healthy controls. MEG data was acquired whilst participants viewed high- and low-calorie food pictures. Attention was assessed with a reaction time task and eye tracking. Time-series analysis suggested increased neural activity in response to both calorie conditions in the AN groups, consistent with an early AB. Increased activity was observed at 150 ms in the current AN group. Neuronal activity at this latency was at normal level in the recovered group; however, this group exhibited enhanced activity at 320 ms after stimulus. Consistent with previous studies, analysis in source space and behavioral data suggested enhanced attention and cognitive control processes in response to food stimuli in AN. This may enable avoidance of salient food stimuli and maintenance of dietary restraint in AN. A later latency of increased activity in the recovered group may reflect a reversal of this avoidance, with source space and behavioral data indicating increased visual and cognitive processing of food stimuli.