Associations Between Neural Reward Processing and Binge Eating Among Adolescent Girls. (2017)

J Adolesc Health. 2017 Oct 17. pii: S1054-139X(17)30415-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.08.006.

Bodell LP1, Wildes JE2, Goldschmidt AB3, Lepage R4, Keenan KE2, Guyer AE5, Hipwell AE4, Stepp SD4, Forbes EE4.



Neuroimaging studies suggest that altered brain responses to food-related cues in reward-sensitive regions characterize individuals who experience binge-eating episodes. However, the absence of longitudinal data limits the understanding of whether reward-system alterations increase vulnerability to binge eating, as theorized in models of the development of this behavior.


Adolescent girls (N = 122) completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging monetary reward task at age 16 years as part of an ongoing longitudinal study. Self-report of binge eating was assessed using the Eating Attitudes Test at ages 16 and 18 years. Regression analyses examined concurrent and longitudinal associations between the blood-oxygenation-level-dependent response to anticipating and winning monetary rewards and the severity of binge eating while controlling for age 16 depressive symptoms and socioeconomic status.


Greater ventromedial prefrontal cortex and caudate responses to winning money were correlated with greater severity of binge eating concurrently but not prospectively.


This study is the first to examine longitudinal associations between reward responding and binge eating in community-based, mostly low-socioeconomic status adolescent girls. Ventromedial prefrontal cortex response to reward outcome-possibly reflecting an enhanced subjective reward value-appears to be a state marker of binge-eating severity rather than a predictor of future severity.

KEYWORDS:  Adolescents; Binge eating; Disordered eating; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Reward

PMID: 29054735

DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.08.006