Research projects

Ongoing projects

Eating attitudes and body shape judgement: neurobiological study in healthy women


Given the limited research data on the neurobiological basis of size estimation and perception there is a need to develop tasks studying these processes which can be applied to anorexia nervosa (AN). In addition there have been only a few small studies investigating the neural processing of food related stimuli in AN and these have not controlled for a general alteration in responses to positive and negative valenced stimuli in AN.

As previously published literature show that there is evidence that body image distortion or dissatisfaction, a core feature of AN, is associated in the general population with abnormal eating patterns and distorted estimation of body size and may be a precursor for developing an eating disorder. We therefore hypothesise that normal weight individuals with a high degree of body dissatisfaction will display abnormalities in the neural processes involved in estimation of their own body size and provide a normal volunteer model for AN.

In this pilot study we will develop fMRI tasks to evaluate the role of different brain areas involved in relative size estimation and in estimation of body and object size. We will also pilot tasks related to responses to positive and negative non-food images and to high and low calorie food stimuli. We will recruit normal weight healthy female volunteers with high and low body dissatisfaction to investigate whether they might be a useful normal volunteer model for AN and to provide pilot data to inform future studies in patients with AN.

Duration of the project

6 months

Members of the project

Dr Nadezda RancevaPhD student
Professor Ian AndersonSupervisor