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Aberrant Functional Connectivity between Reward and Inhibitory Control Networks in Pre-Adolescent Binge Eating Disorder

By Stuart Murray, Celina Alba, Christina Duval, Jason Nagata, Ryan Cabeen, Darrin Lee, Arthur W. Toga, Steven Siegel, Kay Jann

Posted 08 Oct 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.06.463386

Background: Behavioral features of binge eating disorder (BED) suggest abnormalities in reward and inhibitory control. Studies of adult populations suggest functional abnormalities in reward and inhibitory control networks. Despite behavioral markers often developing in children, the neurobiology of pediatric BED remains unstudied. Methods: 58 pre-adolescent children (aged 9-10-years) with BED and 66 age, BMI and developmentally-matched control children were extracted from the 3.0 baseline (Year 0) release of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. We investigated group differences in resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) functional connectivity (FC) within and between reward and inhibitory control networks. A seed-based approach was employed to assess nodes in the reward (orbitofrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, amygdala) and inhibitory control (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex) networks via hypothesis-driven seed-to-seed analyses, and secondary seed-to-voxel analyses. Results: Our findings revealed reduced FC between the dlPFC and amygdala, and between the anterior cingulate cortex and orbitofrontal cortex in pre-adolescent children with BED, relative to age, gender, BMI and developmentally matched controls. These findings indicating aberrant connectivity between nodes of inhibitory control and reward networks were corroborated by the whole-brain FC analyses. Conclusions: Early-onset BED may be characterized by diffuse abnormalities in the functional synergy between reward and cognitive control networks, without perturbations within reward and inhibitory control networks, respectively. The decreased capacity to regulate a reward-driven pursuit of hedonic foods, which is characteristic of BED, may in part, rest on this dysconnectivity between reward and inhibitory control networks.

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