Melbourne researchers have discovered a new bio-marker that could be used to help diagnose anorexia with 95 percent accuracy. Researchers from Swinburne University, The University of Melbourne and St. Vincent's Hospital found that people with anorexia displayed eye movements called square wave jerks, also known as saccadic intrusion, which only a small number of healthy individuals have.
Researchers investigated whether individuals with anorexia and healthy control individuals differed in the rate of square wave jerks. The square wave jerks were observed during an attempted fixation task during which participants were instructed to fixate on a white cross against a black background for five minutes. It was seen that participants with anorexia produced a significantly greater number of square wave jerks during the task than healthy individuals.
Professor Susan Rossell from Swinburne's Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre said, "The findings needed to be replicated and expanded, but indicated a neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that contributes to motor control, vision and other cortical functions might be involved in the impaired eye movements."
Further studies could explore the possibility of medications that influence the GABA system as a treatment avenue in anorexia.