Dr. Walter H. Kaye of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to study 13 women who had recovered from anorexia, maintaining a normal weight and regular menstrual cycles for at least one year, and 13 healthy women in a control group.
Each woman was asked to guess whether a flashing question mark on a computer screen represented a number higher or lower than five. Correct guessers were rewarded with $2, while incorrect guessers forfeited $1. Brain activity was monitored during game play with fMRI brain imaging.
The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, showed brain regions lit up in different ways for women who formerly had anorexia compared to healthy controls. The brain region for emotional responses showed strong differences for winning and losing in healthy women; women with an anorexic history showed little difference between winning and losing, the study said.