Over activity of a chemical in a specific region of the brain may be responsible for the eating disorder of anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by purposeful weight loss that is often brought about by the patient. Poor self-image often causes the disorder that may result in malnutrition of varying degrees, with endocrine and metabolic changes happening as a side effect that can cause disturbance in all the body functions.
Research done by scientists of University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found that over activity of the dopamine receptors in the brain's basal ganglia is responsible for women being unaware of their conditions even as they suffer from the disorder. Researchers had used positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to find out about the function and the level of activities of brain dopamine receptors. Researchers could only include women who had recovered from the disorder versus normal women for their study, as women who are still suffering from the disorder will have the malnourishments affect the chemistry of the brain and images will not be easy to read.
The results showed that there were increased receptor bindings in the basal ganglia of women who had the history of the anorexia, and this was true irrespective of their age, body mass index, and other health indices
Reference: Biological Psychiatry, July 2005