Brain imaging demonstrates a reduced neural impact of eating in obesity

Nancy Puzziferri, Jeffrey M. Zigman, Binu P. Thomas, Perry Mihalakos, Ryan Gallagher, Michael Lutter, Thomas Carmody, Hanzhang Lu, Carol A. Tamminga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective This study investigated functional brain response differences to food in women with BMI either <25 kg/m2 (lean) or >35 kg/m2 (severe obesity). Design and Methods Thirty women, 18-65 years old, from academic medical centers participated. Baseline brain perfusion was measured with arterial spin labeling. Brain activity was measured via blood-oxygen-level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging in response to food cues, and appeal to cues was rated. Subjective hunger/fullness was reported pre- and post-imaging. After a standard meal, measures were repeated. Results When fasting, brain perfusion did not differ significantly between groups; and both groups showed significantly increased activity in the neo- and limbic cortices and midbrain compared with baseline (P < 0.05, family-wise-error whole-brain corrected). Once fed, the lean group showed significantly decreased activation in these areas, especially the limbic cortex, whereas the group with severe obesity showed no such decreases (P < 0.05, family-wise-error whole-brain corrected). After eating, appeal ratings of food decreased only in lean women. Within groups, hunger decreased (P < 0.001) and fullness increased (P < 0.001) fasted to fed. Conclusions While fasting, brain response to food cues in women did not differ significantly despite BMI. After eating, brain activity quickly diminished in lean women but remained elevated in women with severe obesity. These brain activation findings confirm previous studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-836
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Brain imaging demonstrates a reduced neural impact of eating in obesity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this