Objective: This case-control study was aimed at testing two main hypotheses: (i) obesity is characterized by neurofunctional alterations within the mesocorticolimbic reward system, a brain network originating from the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA); and (ii) these alterations are associated with a bias for food-related stimuli and craving. Methods: Normal-weight individuals and individuals with obesity underwent a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scan and the assessment of impulsivity, food craving, appetite, and implicit bias for food and non-food stimuli. The VTA was used as a seed to map, for each participant, the strength of its functional connections with the rest of the brain. The between-group difference in functional connectivity was then computed, and brain-behavior correlations were performed. Results: Individuals with obesity showed hyper-connectivity of the VTA with part of the ventral occipitotemporal cortex, recently found to be specialized for food images, and hypo-connectivity with the left inferior frontal gyrus, devoted to cognitive control. VTA–ventral occipitotemporal cortex connectivity was positively associated with food craving and food-related bias; the reverse correlation was observed for VTA–inferior frontal gyrus connectivity. Conclusions: These findings reveal that, in obesity, food-related visual stimuli become cravingly salient through an imbalanced connectivity of the reward system with sensory-specific regions and the frontal cortex involved in cognitive control.

How Images of Food Become Cravingly Salient in Obesity / F. Devoto, A. Ferrulli, G. Banfi, L. Luzi, L. Zapparoli, E. Paulesu. - In: OBESITY. - ISSN 1930-7381. - 31:9(2023 Sep), pp. 2294-2303. [10.1002/oby.23834]

How Images of Food Become Cravingly Salient in Obesity

A. Ferrulli
Secondo
;
L. Luzi;
2023

Abstract

Objective: This case-control study was aimed at testing two main hypotheses: (i) obesity is characterized by neurofunctional alterations within the mesocorticolimbic reward system, a brain network originating from the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA); and (ii) these alterations are associated with a bias for food-related stimuli and craving. Methods: Normal-weight individuals and individuals with obesity underwent a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scan and the assessment of impulsivity, food craving, appetite, and implicit bias for food and non-food stimuli. The VTA was used as a seed to map, for each participant, the strength of its functional connections with the rest of the brain. The between-group difference in functional connectivity was then computed, and brain-behavior correlations were performed. Results: Individuals with obesity showed hyper-connectivity of the VTA with part of the ventral occipitotemporal cortex, recently found to be specialized for food images, and hypo-connectivity with the left inferior frontal gyrus, devoted to cognitive control. VTA–ventral occipitotemporal cortex connectivity was positively associated with food craving and food-related bias; the reverse correlation was observed for VTA–inferior frontal gyrus connectivity. Conclusions: These findings reveal that, in obesity, food-related visual stimuli become cravingly salient through an imbalanced connectivity of the reward system with sensory-specific regions and the frontal cortex involved in cognitive control.
Settore MED/13 - Endocrinologia
set-2023
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/994848
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