Altered processing of rewarding and aversive basic taste stimuli in symptomatic women with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: An fMRI study

Alessio Maria Monteleone, Palmiero Monteleone, Fabrizio Esposito, Anna Prinster, Umberto Volpe, Elena Cantone, Francesca Pellegrino, Antonietta Canna, Walter Milano, Marco Aiello, Francesco Di Salle, Mario Maj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have displayed a dysregulation in the way in which the brain processes pleasant taste stimuli in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). However, exactly how the brain processes disgusting basic taste stimuli has never been investigated, even though disgust plays a role in food intake modulation and AN and BN patients exhibit high disgust sensitivity. Therefore, we investigated the activation of brain areas following the administration of pleasant and aversive basic taste stimuli in symptomatic AN and BN patients compared to healthy subjects. Twenty underweight AN women, 20 symptomatic BN women and 20 healthy women underwent fMRI while tasting 0.292 M sucrose solution (sweet taste), 0.5 mM quinine hydrochloride solution (bitter taste) and water as a reference taste. In symptomatic AN and BN patients the pleasant sweet stimulus induced a higher activation in several brain areas than that induced by the aversive bitter taste. The opposite occurred in healthy controls. Moreover, compared to healthy controls, AN patients showed a decreased response to the bitter stimulus in the right amygdala and left anterior cingulate cortex, while BN patients showed a decreased response to the bitter stimulus in the right amygdala and left insula. These results show an altered processing of rewarding and aversive taste stimuli in ED patients, which may be relevant for understanding the pathophysiology of AN and BN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-101
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume90
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017

Keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Disgust
  • fMRI
  • Reward
  • Taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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