Functional neuroimaging in craniopharyngioma: A useful tool to better understand hypothalamic obesity?

Christian L. Roth, Elizabeth Aylward, Olivia Liang, Natalia M. Kleinhans, Gregory Pauley, Ellen A. Schur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: To use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in craniopharyngioma (CP) patients to examine the hypothesis that hypothalamic damage due to CP and its treatment results in enhanced perception of food reward and/or impaired central satiety processing. Methods: Pre- and post-meal responses to visual food cues in brain regions of interest (ROI; bilateral nucleus accumbens, bilateral insula, and medial orbitofrontal cortex) were assessed in 4 CP patients versus 4 age- and weight-matched controls. Stimuli consisted of images of high- ('fattening') and low-calorie ('non-fattening') foods in blocks, alternating with non-food object blocks. After the first fMRI scan, subjects drank a high-calorie test meal to suppress appetite, then completed a second fMRI scan. Within each ROI, we calculated mean z-scores for activation by fattening as compared to non-fattening food images. Results: Following the test meal, controls showed suppression of activation by food cues while CP patients showed trends towards higher activation. Conclusion: These data, albeit in a small group of patients, support our hypothesis that perception of food cues may be altered in hypothalamic obesity (HO), especially after eating, i.e. in the satiated state. The fMRI approach is encouraging for performing future mechanistic studies of the brain response to food cues and satiety in patients with hypothalamic or other forms of childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-253
Number of pages11
JournalObesity Facts
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Food reward
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Hyperphagia
  • Hypothalamic obesity
  • Satiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional neuroimaging in craniopharyngioma: A useful tool to better understand hypothalamic obesity?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this