When people with anorexia nervosa decide what to eat, they engage a part of the brain associated with habitual behavior. This finding by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute, the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and New York University was published today in Nature Neuroscience.

Anorexia nervosa is a serious and puzzling illness. Even as its clinical signs have become increasingly recognized, the mortality rate remains among the highest of any psychiatric disorder. A highly stereotyped feature of this illness is the persistent selection of low-calorie, low-fat food, despite the individual’s desire for change. The brain mechanisms underlying this persistent and restrictive eating disorder are unclear.

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