J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 76:852-857 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2004.048819
  • Paper

Brain lesions and eating disorders

  1. R Uher,
  2. J Treasure
  1. Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Rudolf Uher
 PO59 Eating Disorders Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK;
  • Received 29 June 2004
  • Accepted 17 September 2004
  • Revised 30 August 2004


Objective: To evaluate the relation between lesions of various brain structures and the development of eating disorders and thus inform the neurobiological research on the aetiology of these mental illnesses.

Method: We systematically reviewed 54 previously published case reports of eating disorders with brain damage. Lesion location, presence of typical psychopathology, and evidence suggestive of causal association were recorded.

Results: Although simple changes in appetite and eating behaviour occur with hypothalamic and brain stem lesions, more complex syndromes, including characteristic psychopathology of eating disorders, are associated with right frontal and temporal lobe damage.

Conclusions: These findings challenge the traditional view that eating disorders are linked to hypothalamic disturbance and suggest a major role of frontotemporal circuits with right hemispheric predominance in the pathogenesis.


  • Competing interests: none declared

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