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Visually induced appetite: Identifying the neural basis of a risk factor for overeating
10th International Conference in Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON X)
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Eating is not only triggered by hunger, but also by the taste, smell and sight of foods. Viewing appetizing foods alone can evoke a desire to eat, although there is considerable variation in this ‘External Food Sensitivity’ (EFS) [1]. Since high EFS has been associated with food craving and overeating [2], identifying the neural correlates of this tendency is important for understanding obesity. Animal research has identified a broad network mediating feeding,including the ventral striatum, amygdala, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and premotor and medial prefrontal cortices [3]. However, it is unclear whether a similar network is involved in humans and how these structures interact. Using functional imaging (fMRI) in healthy volunteers, we investigated how EFS influences the neural correlates of viewing foods. Connectivity analyses revealed that when viewing appetizing vs. bland foods, high EFS individuals displayed: 1) a reduced negative change in connectivity between the amygdala and ventral striatum, and between the ventral striatum and the premotor cortex, and 2) a reduced positive change in connectivity between the ventral striatum and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and between the amygdala and both ventral and dorsal ACC. The network identified shows considerable overlap with the feeding network identified in rat models. 1. van Strien, T., Frijters, J.E.R., Bergers, G.P.A., and Defares, P.B. (1986). The Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ) for Assessment of Restrained, Emotional, and External Eating Behavior. Int J Eat Disord 5, 295-315. 2. Burton, P., Smit, H.J., and Lightowler, H.J. (2007). The influence of restrained and external eating patterns on overeating. Appetite 49, 191-197. 3. Kelley, A.E., Baldo, B.A., Pratt, W.E., and Will, M.J. (2005). Corticostriatal-hypothalamic circuitry and food motivation: integration of energy, action and reward. Physiol Behav 86, 773-795.