About This Research Project
Angela Guarda, MD
Stephen and Jean Robinson Associate Professor of Psychiatry of Eating Disorders
Associate Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence
Director, Eating Disorders Program, Johns Hopkins Hospital
Although its cause is unknown, one factor believed to contribute to the disorder’s stubborn perseverance is the dysregulation of brain reward systems activated by palatable, calorie-dense foods. This project aims to understand brain changes that maintain anorectic thinking and behavior patterns, with the ultimate goal of improving existing treatments for severe anorexia nervosa.
Current treatment for anorexia nervosa focuses on weight restoration and the normalization of food intake, essential components of recovery and remission. Dr. Guarda and her team are interested in whether the neural correlates of taste reward processing in women with anorexia nervosa are altered, whether these changes following inpatient meal-based behavioral weight restoration, and whether activation patterns can distinguish those who recover versus those who relapse following treatment.
This project involves scanning brain reward circuitry using functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) before and after hospital-based treatment for anorexia nervosa. While inside the scanner, participants taste a number of nutritionally-relevant stimuli. This allows the researchers to assess brain taste reward circuitry activation in real-time. We are interested in shifts in taste preference and changes in the activation of brain reward circuits in persons with anorexia nervosa in the acutely ill versus the weight restored state.
Adolescent and adult women with Anorexia Nervosa and other restrictive eating disorders.
Drs. Guarda, Moran, and Smith are seeking funding to extend this pilot project by:
- Enrolling healthy-weight matched control participants to determine if reward processing in treated patients with anorexia nervosa is rehabilitated to the degree observed in healthy individuals without anorexia nervosa.
- Examining the impact of nutritional rehabilitation on gastrointestinal function and its relationship to brain activation in patients with anorexia nervosa.
- Improving the specificity of information collected in the fMRI scanner by increasing the fMRI assessment by 15 minutes.
This study has the potential to identify reward-circuitry mechanisms involved in anorexia nervosa and to direct the development of future, personalized, treatment options and medical therapies.
Be Part Of The Solution
Angela Guarda, MD
Angela Guarda, MD is the Stephen and Jean Robinson Associate Professor of Eating Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at...Read More...
It is impossible to recover from Anorexia unless you reach a minimal normal weight.