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Associations between cortical thickness, structural connectivity and severity of dimensional bulimia nervosa symptomatology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Margaret L. Westwater, Jakob Seidlitz, Kelly M.J. Diederen, Sarah Fischer, James C. Thompson

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-125
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Early online date11 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018

King's Authors


Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a psychiatric illness defined by preoccupation with body image (cognitive ‘symptoms’), binge eating and compensatory behaviors. Although diagnosed BN has been related to grey matter alterations, characterization of brain structure in women with a range of BN symptoms has not been made. This study examined whether cortical thickness (CT) values scaled with severity of BN cognitions in 33 women with variable BN pathology. We then assessed global structural connectivity (SC) of CT to determine if individual differences in global SC relate to BN symptom severity. We used the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) as a continuous measure of BN symptom severity. EDE-Q score was negatively related to global CT and local CT in the left middle frontal gyrus, right superior frontal gyrus and bilateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and temporoparietal regions. Moreover, cortical thinning was most pronounced in regions with high global connectivity. Finally, individual contributions to global SC at the group level related to EDE-Q score, where increased EDE-Q score correlated with reduced connectivity of the left OFC and middle temporal cortex and increased connectivity of the right superior parietal lobule. Findings represent the first evidence of cortical thinning that relates to cognitive BN symptoms.

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