Recent research reports Anorexia Nervosa (AN) to be highly dependent upon neurobiological function. Some behaviours, particularly concerning food selectivity are found in populations with both Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and AN, and there is a proportionally elevated number of anorexic patients exhibiting symptoms of ASD. We performed a systematic review of structural MRI literature with the aim of identifying common structural neural correlates common to both AN and ASD. Across 46 ASD publications, a meta-analysis of volumetric differences between ASD and healthy controls revealed no consistently affected brain regions. Meta-analysis of 23 AN publications revealed increased volume within the orbitofrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe, and adult-only AN literature revealed differences within the genu of the anterior cingulate cortex. The changes are consistent with alterations in flexible reward-related learning and episodic memory reported in neuropsychological studies. There was no structural overlap between ASD and AN. Findings suggest no consistent neuroanatomical abnormality associated with ASD, and evidence is lacking to suggest that reported behavioural similarities between those with AN and ASD are due to neuroanatomical structural similarities.
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Data Availability StatementThe data that supports the findings of this study are available in the supplementary material of this article.
- anorexia nervosa
- autism spectrum disorder
- emotion awareness