Alterations in emotion generation and regulation neurocircuitry in depression and eating disorders: A comparative review of structural and functional neuroimaging studies

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Major depression and eating disorders (EDs) are highly co-morbid and may share liability. Impaired emotion regulation may represent a common etiological or maintaining mechanism. Research has demonstrated that depressed individuals and individuals with EDs exhibit impaired emotion regulation, with these impairments being associated with changes in brain structure and function. The goal of this review was to evaluate findings from neuroimaging studies of depression and EDs to determine whether there are overlapping alterations in the brain regions known to be involved in emotion regulation, evidence of which would aid in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. Our review of the literature suggests that depression and EDs exhibit common structural and functional alterations in brain regions involved in emotion regulation, including the amygdala, ventral striatum and nucleus accumbens, anterior cingulate cortex, insula, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. We present preliminary support for a shared etiological mechanism. Future studies should consider manipulating emotion regulation in a sample of individuals with depression and EDs to better characterize abnormalities in these brain circuits.

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