Relationship between binge eating and associated eating behaviors with subcortical brain volumes and cortical thickness

Nadia Abdo, Emily Boyd, Shaunte Baboumian, Spiro P. Pantazatos, Allan Geliebter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most prevalent eating disorder. We examined the presence of binge eating (BE) and three associated eating behaviors in relation to subcortical regional volumes and cortical thickness from brain scans. Methods: We processed structural MRI brain scans for 466 individuals from the Nathan Kline Institute Rockland Sample using Freesurfer. We investigated subcortical volumes and cortical thicknesses among those with and without BE and in relation to the scores on dietary restraint, disinhibition, and hunger from the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ). We conducted a whole-brain analysis and a region of analysis (ROI) using a priori regions associated with BE and with the three eating factors. We also compared scores on the three TFEQ factors for the BE and non-BE. Results: The BE group had higher scores for dietary restraint (p = .013), disinhibition (p = 1.22E-07), and hunger (p = 5.88E-07). In the whole-brain analysis, no regions survived correction for multiple comparisons (FDR corrected p<0.01) for either BE group or interaction with TFEQ. However, disinhibition scores correlated positively with left nucleus accumbens (NAc) volume (p < 0.01 FDR corrected). In the ROI analysis, those with BE also had greater left NAc volume (p = 0.008, uncorrected) compared to non-BE. Limitations: Limitations include potential self-report bias on the EDE-Q and TFEQ. Conclusions: The findings show that BE and disinhibition scores were each associated with greater volumes in the left NAc, a reward area, consistent with a greater drive and pleasure for food.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1205
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • BED
  • EDE-Q
  • TFEQ
  • dietary restraint
  • disinhibition
  • structural neuroimaging


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