The Brain Of Overweight Individuals Functions Differently in Response To Food, Study Finds

In Education

For years a Mind, Brain, and Behaviour Research Center research group at the University of Granada studied the excess weight issue from a neuroscientific perspective to establish the precise role the brain plays. The study was examining the functional connectivity in adolescents’ brains and connection with diet and weight loss in obese adolescents.

A new study shows a connection between excess weight and brain function

In a study published recently in the International Journal of Obesity researchers established that the inferior weight loss in teenagers after a diet is associated with a stronger connection between brain areas linked with the motivation to eat and food’s rewarding effect. The finding adds to previous findings by the University of Granada’s Applied Neuropsychology and Psychoneuroimmunology Research Group in studying adults and adolescents. The study showed overweight people’s brains worked differently compared to those of a healthy weight when it comes to food matters.

Raquel Vilar Lopez, a UGR researcher and one of the study authors, indicated that when the brain decides what is best to eat when presented with appetizing food, the impulsive circuits tend to be more active compared to reflective circuits. The brain areas in obese individuals showed higher functional connectivity in anterior portions and lower connectivity in posterior regions of the cortex. Besides the difference in brain activation, some brain areas in obese individuals are different in cerebral cortex thickness and how they connect. Interestingly there is a link between the differences likely related to a high-fat diet and the challenges people experience exercising.

Developing training approaches to combat excess weight

Based on the findings, Vilar and her counterpart Alfonso Caracuel at UGR’s Developmental and Education psychology Department in partnership with other researchers, have commenced a project to combat excess weight. The project involves combining training approaches that have been effective in imbalanced aspects modification in brain circuit function involved in obese or overweight. Most importantly, the individual training approaches can be delivered in person or online.

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