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Neural correlates of the volitional regulation of the desire for food

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Hollmann,  Maurice
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Hellrung,  Lydia
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Pleger,  Burkhard
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Schlögl,  Haiko
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Internal Medicine, Clinic for Endocrinology and Nephrology, University Hospital Leipzig, Germany;

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Kabisch,  Stefan
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Internal Medicine, Clinic for Endocrinology and Nephrology, University Hospital Leipzig, Germany;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Horstmann,  Annette
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Citation

Hollmann, M., Hellrung, L., Pleger, B., Schlögl, H., Kabisch, S., Stumvoll, M., et al. (2012). Neural correlates of the volitional regulation of the desire for food. International Journal of Obesity, 36(5), 648-655. doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.125.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-0FB4-A
Abstract
Objective: In this study, we investigate the brain mechanisms of the conscious regulation of the desire for food using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Further, we examine associations between hemodynamic responses and participants’ cognitive restraint of eating (CRE), as well as their susceptibility to uncontrolled eating. Subjects: Seventeen non-vegetarian, right-handed, female Caucasian participants (age: 20–30 years, mean 25.3 years±3.1 s.d.; BMI: 20.2–31.2 kg m−2, mean 25.1±3.5 s.d.). Measurements: During scanning, our participants viewed pictures of food items they had pre-rated according to tastiness and healthiness. Participants were either allowed to admit to the desire for the food (ADMIT) or they were instructed to downregulate their desire using a cognitive reappraisal strategy, that is, thinking of negative long-term health-related and social consequences (REGULATE). Results: Comparing the hemodynamic responses of the REGULATE with the ADMIT condition, we observed robust activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the pre-supplementary motor area, the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), the dorsal striatum (DS), the bilateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the anterior insula and the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). Activation in the DLPFC and the DS strongly correlated with the degree of dietary restraint under both conditions. Conclusion: Cortical activation in the DLPFC, the pre-supplementary motor area and the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) are known to underpin top-down control, inhibition of learned associations and pre-potent responses. The observed hemodynamic responses in the lateral OFC, the DS, the anterior insula and the TPJ support the notion of reward valuation and integration, interoceptive awareness, and self-reflection as key processes during active regulation of desire for food. In conclusion, an active reappraisal of unhealthy food recruits the brain's valuation system in combination with prefrontal cognitive control areas associated with response inhibition. The correlations between brain responses and CRE suggest that individuals with increased cognitive restraint show an automatic predisposition to regulate the hedonic aspects of food stimuli. This cognitive control might be necessary to counterbalance a lack of homeostatic mechanisms.