Objective: The obesogenic environment is pervasive, yet only some people become obese. The aim was to investigate whether obese individuals show differential neural responses to visual and auditory food cues, independent of cue modality. Methods: Obese (BMI 29-41, n = 10) and lean (BMI 20-24, n = 10) females underwent fMRI scanning during presentation of auditory (spoken word) and visual (photograph) cues representing high-energy-density (ED) and low-ED foods. The effect of obesity on whole-brain activation, and on functional connectivity with the midbrain/VTA, was examined. Results: Obese compared with lean women showed greater modality-independent activation of the midbrain/VTA and putamen in response to high-ED (vs. low-ED) cues, as well as relatively greater functional connectivity between the midbrain/VTA and cerebellum (P < 0.05 corrected). Conclusions: Heightened modality-independent responses to food cues within the midbrain/VTA and putamen, and altered functional connectivity between the midbrain/VTA and cerebellum, could contribute to excessive food intake in obese individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics