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.