Biological explanations of eating behaviour

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neural mechanisms

1) the hypothalmus glad in the brain responsible for homeostasis

2) helps regulate things like temerature, circadian rhytm and intake of food and drink

3) the ventromedial nucleus and the lateral nucleus are the parts of the hypothalmus that are thought to be involved in foos regulation

Keesey & Corbett (1983)

they found that damaging the lateral hypothalmus of rats caused them to starve themselves to death. this study suggests that anorexia may be caused by lateral hypothalmus and endocrine malfunction, however, these were rats, not humans. this study has ethical issues, we should also not automatically extrapolate from animals to humans as we are far more complex.

Neurodevelopment and anorexia

- pregnancy and birth complications can damage the brain of the foetus including the area associated with appetite control (lateral hypothalmus)

- Lindberg & Hjern (2003) and Favaro et al (2006) have found that premature babies are more likely to develop anorexia than controls and concluded this may be due to lakc of oxygen to the brain at birth or shortly after.

anorexia nervosa

anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders in the uk. about 90% of cases are female aged 13-18 years old. about 1 in 250 females and 1 in 2000 males in the uk between 15 and 30 suffer from anorexia. it involves a massive reduction in the amount of food eaten, leading to significant weight loss

the DSM-IV (the main diagnostic manual for mental disorders) describes four main characterisitcs of anorexia:

1) low weight - anorexia is characterised by a refusal to maintain normal body weight. this is usually classified consistently weighing less than 85% of the expected weight for their build, age and height

2) body image distortion - people with anorexia have distorted self perception. they believe they're overwieght even when very thin, judge themselves based om largely on their


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