Biological explanations of Anorexia Nervosa

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  • Biological aetiologies of Anorexia
    • Genetic explanation
      • 1st and 2nd degree relatives more likely to have anorexia
        • Issues with family studies in Genetics
      • 55% for MZ twins and 7% for DZ twins
        • Issues with twin studies in Genetics
    • Neuro-chemical
      • High levels of serotonin in Anorexics when compared to healthy controls
        • Highest levels found in those with most severe anxiety
      • SSRIs effective in preventing relapse
      • PET scans of 10 recovering anorexics and 10 healthy controls
        • OVER-activity of DOPAMINE in basal ganglia
          • Dopamine plays a role in interpreting pleasure
    • Neuro-anatomical
      • Ventromedial =SATIETY CENTRE (full)
        • Work together to create a set point (specific body weight)
          • Lab experiments show damage to areas causes change in set point
            • Which is reflected by eating behaviour
      • Lateral = EATING BEHAVIOUR (hungry)
        • Work together to create a set point (specific body weight)
          • Lab experiments show damage to areas causes change in set point
            • Which is reflected by eating behaviour
      • Noradrenalin may disturb hypothalamu-s operation to cause Anrorexia
        • Drugs increasing noradrenalin levels have proven helpful in treatment
          • Low levels of noradrenalin in V.H of rats lead to anorexic behvaiours
            • Low rate of eating, increased rate of activity, reduced carbohydrate intake
            • Rats do not have same though processes as humans, do not make informed decisions, eat for survival and cannot talk about their choices
            • Rats did not exhibit behaviour to suggest HUNGER, rather they became INDIFFEREN-T to food
              • Anorexics are not indifferent to food
                • Usually a big part of their lives
          • Found that chemical abnormalities in the H disappear after weight gain
            • Abnormalities are a symptom of malnutrition not a cause
    • Overall evaluation of biological aetiologies
      • Reductionist
      • Deterministic: view that an individual's behaviour is controlled by internal forces rather than will
    • Overall conclusion of biological aetiologies
      • Make a contribution to the understanding of eating disorders
        • But other factors are involved
        • Several questions left unanswered
          • Evidencee of personality characteristics causing a predisposition
          • Reasons for vulnerable age and gender group
          • Why are eating disorders increasing?

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