A Meta-Analytic Investigation of Grey Matter Differences in Anorexia Nervosa and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Michelle Sader* (Corresponding Author), Justin Williams, Gordon Waiter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-579
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Issue number5
Early online date7 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

open access via Wiley agreement

Data Availability Statement

The data that supports the findings of this study are available in the supplementary material of this article.


  • anorexia nervosa
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • emotion awareness
  • meta-analysis
  • VBM


Dive into the research topics of 'A Meta-Analytic Investigation of Grey Matter Differences in Anorexia Nervosa and Autism Spectrum Disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this