An Overlooked Brain Region in the Aetiology of Anorexia Nervosa: The Importance of Behaviourally Driven Neuroimaging Analysis

Andrea Phillipou, David Jonathan Castle, Larry Allen Abel, Caroline Gurvich, Susan Lee Rossell

Research output: Contribution to journalComment / DebateOtherpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The neurobiological contributions to anorexia nervosa (AN) remain poorly understood, hindering the development of effective neurobiological treatments such as medications and brain stimulation. A large number of studies have been undertaken utilising neuroimaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to gain a better understanding of the brain mechanisms involved in the illness. However, the analyses undertaken by many studies have utilised a whole-brain analytical approach as much of this research has been exploratory in nature. This is, however, problematic as small brain regions that differ between groups may not have the statistical power to produce statistically significant results. This is highlighted in a recent study undertaken by our group utilising diffusion-weighted imaging. In this research, we identified widespread white matter microstructural differences in individuals with AN, but only showed differences in a small brain region (the superior colliculus) when a region-of-interest approach that was driven by behavioural findings was utilised. The importance of hypothesis-driven neuroimaging analyses is discussed in this article.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Experimental Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • diffusion-weighted imaging
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • midbrain
  • superior colliculus

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