The following is a summary of “Neural underpinnings of threat bias in relation to loss-of-control eating behaviors among adolescent girls with high weight,” published in the October 2023 issue of Psychiatry by Byrne et al.
People with binge-eating disorder (BED) often pay more attention to negative social cues, such as angry faces, than people without BED. This may be because people with BED are more likely to experience social anxiety and low self-esteem.
Researchers performed a retrospective study to Investigate neural features of attentional bias to social threats in adolescent girls with and without loss-of-control eating using magnetoencephalography (MEG).
Adolescent girls aged 12-17, overweight or obese (BMI >85th percentile), participated in an affective dot-probe task during MEG scans. The study assessed neural responses to angry or happy (vs. neutral) face cues. The study also measured energy intake and macronutrient consumption using a laboratory test meal paradigm.
The result demonstrated 34 girls ((N = 34; Mage = 15.5 ± 1.5 years; BMI-z = 1.7 ± 0.4) ), findings indicated a reduced neural response to angry face cues compared to neutral ones in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during attention deployment (P< 0.01). Among these girls, those with LOC-eating (N=13) showed a heightened neural response to angry faces in the visual cortex during attention deployment (p < 0.001) compared to those without LOC-eating (N=21). Visual and cognitive control regions of interest (ROIs) displayed potential interactions with test meal intake patterns in girls with LOC-eating (P= 0.01).
The study found Girls who are overweight or obese may have difficulty using higher-order executive brain regions to control their eating behavior, which could lead to excess weight gain.