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Despite increasing knowledge on the neuroimaging patterns of eating disorder (ED) symptoms in non-clinical populations, studies using whole-brain machine learning to identify connectome-based neuromarkers of ED symptomatology are absent. This study examined the association of connectivity within and between large-scale functional networks with specific symptomatic behaviors and cognitions using connectome-based predictive modeling (CPM).
CPM with ten-fold cross-validation was carried out to probe functional networks that were predictive of ED-associated symptomatology, including body image concerns, binge eating, and compensatory behaviors, within the discovery sample of 660 participants. The predictive ability of the identified networks was validated using an independent sample of 821 participants.
The connectivity predictive of body image concerns was identified within and between networks implicated in cognitive control (frontoparietal and medial frontal), reward sensitivity (subcortical), and visual perception (visual). Crucially, the set of connections in the positive network related to body image concerns identified in one sample was generalized to predict body image concerns in an independent sample, suggesting the replicability of this effect.
These findings point to the feasibility of using the functional connectome to predict ED symptomatology in the general population and provide the first evidence that functional interplay among distributed networks predicts body shape/weight concerns.
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