Volitional regulation of brain responses to food stimuli in overweight and obese subjects: A real-time fMRI feedback study

Maartje S Spetter, Rahim Malekshahi, Niels Birbaumer, Michael Lührs, Albert H van der Veer, Klaus Scheffler, Sophia Spuckti, Hubert Preissl, Ralf Veit, Manfred Hallschmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Obese subjects who achieve weight loss show increased functional connectivity between dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), key areas of executive control and reward processing. We investigated the potential of real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rt-fMRI) neurofeedback training to achieve healthier food choices by enhancing self-control of the interplay between these brain areas. We trained eight male individuals with overweight or obesity (age: 31.8 ± 4.4 years, BMI: 29.4 ± 1.4 kg/m2) to up-regulate functional connectivity between the dlPFC and the vmPFC by means of a four-day rt-fMRI neurofeedback protocol including, on each day, three training runs comprised of six up-regulation and six passive viewing trials. During the up-regulation runs of the four training days, participants successfully learned to increase functional connectivity between dlPFC and vmPFC. In addition, a trend towards less high-calorie food choices emerged from before to after training, which however was associated with a trend towards increased covertly assessed snack intake. Findings of this proof-of-concept study indicate that overweight and obese participants can increase functional connectivity between brain areas that orchestrate the top-down control of appetite for high-calorie foods. Neurofeedback training might therefore be a useful tool in achieving and maintaining weight loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-195
Number of pages8
JournalAppetite
Volume112
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Appetite Regulation
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Choice Behavior
  • Cues
  • Energy Intake
  • Food
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neurofeedback
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Reward
  • Self-Control
  • Snacks
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • EATING-DISORDERS
  • Ventromedial prefrontal cortex
  • REWARD
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • DECISION-MAKING
  • VMPFC
  • Real-time functional magnetic resonance
  • NEUROFEEDBACK
  • EFFECTIVE CONNECTIVITY
  • VALUE SIGNALS
  • DORSOLATERAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • SELF-CONTROL
  • MECHANISMS
  • imaging

Cite this

Spetter, M. S., Malekshahi, R., Birbaumer, N., Lührs, M., van der Veer, A. H., Scheffler, K., Spuckti, S., Preissl, H., Veit, R., & Hallschmid, M. (2017). Volitional regulation of brain responses to food stimuli in overweight and obese subjects: A real-time fMRI feedback study. Appetite, 112, 188-195. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.01.032