OBJECTIVE It is possible that disturbances of systems modulating reward may contribute to a vulnerability to develop an eating disorder. METHOD This hypothesis was tested by assessing functional magnetic resonance brain imaging response to a monetary reward task known to activate the anterior ventral striatum (AVS), a region implicated in motivational aspects toward stimuli. To avoid the confounding effects of malnutrition, 10 women who had recovered from bulimia nervosa (BN) were compared with 10 healthy comparison women (CW). RESULTS For the AVS, CW distinguished positive and negative feedback, whereas recovered BN women had similar responses to both conditions. In addition, these groups had similar patterns of findings for the dorsal caudate. DISCUSSION We have previously shown that individuals recovered from anorexia nervosa (AN) also had altered striatal responses and difficulties in differentiating positive and negative feedback. Thus BN and AN individuals may share a difficulty in discriminating the emotional significance of a stimulus.
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