Developmental Translational Research: Adolescence, Brain Circuitry, Cognitive Processes, and Eating Disorders

James Lock

in The Oxford Handbook of Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders: Developmental Perspectives

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199744459
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Developmental Translational Research: Adolescence, Brain Circuitry, Cognitive Processes, and Eating Disorders

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In this concluding chapter, we discuss the interplay between brain development during adolescence; the changes in anatomy, function, and neurocircuitry during this period; and its impact on different symptom presentations in eating disorders. The main premise is that there is, even in normally developing adolescents, a mismatch between capacities for top-down cognitive control and reward-seeking behavior. This mismatch leads to increased behavioral impulsiveness during adolescence. However, this mismatch is also sensitive to both environmental and social processes, so that, together, these biological and environmental processes may generate a range of impulsive behaviors common to externalizing disorders of adolescence. On the other hand, in some adolescents, excessive cognitive control leads to the anxious, inhibited problems associated with internalizing disorders. The two main eating disorder groups—bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa—may represent opposite ends of this spectrum. To discuss this possibility, we review adolescent brain development with a specific focus on cognitive control and its relationship to eating disorder types with particular reference to recent neuroimaging findings. The implication of these data for diagnosis, intervention, and future research in child and adolescent eating disorders are discussed in concluding comments.

Keywords: cognitive control; externalizing disorders; internalizing disorders adolescents

Article.  7720 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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