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Unhealthy yet avoidable: How cognitive bias modification alters behavioral and brain responses to food cues in individuals with obesity

MPS-Authors
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Mehl,  Nora
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
MaxNetAging Research School, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany;

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Morys,  Filip
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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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;
Collaborative Research Center Obesity Mechanisms, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Leipzig, 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;
Collaborative Research Center Obesity Mechanisms, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland;

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Citation

Mehl, N., Morys, F., Villringer, A., & Horstmann, A. (2019). Unhealthy yet avoidable: How cognitive bias modification alters behavioral and brain responses to food cues in individuals with obesity. Nutrients, 11(4): 874. doi:10.3390/nu11040874.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-8F74-A
Abstract
Obesity is associated with automatically approaching problematic stimuli, such as unhealthy food. Cognitive bias modification (CBM) could beneficially impact problematic approach behavior. However, it is unclear which mechanisms are targeted by CBM in obesity. Candidate mechanisms include: (1) altering reward value of food stimuli; and (2) strengthening inhibitory abilities. Thirty-three obese adults completed either CBM or sham training during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. CBM consisted of implicit training to approach healthy and avoid unhealthy foods. At baseline, approach tendencies towards food were present in all participants. Avoiding vs. approaching food was associated with higher activity in the right angular gyrus (rAG). CBM resulted in a diminished approach bias towards unhealthy food, decreased activation in the rAG, and increased activation in the anterior cingulate cortex. Relatedly, functional connectivity between the rAG and right superior frontal gyrus increased. Analysis of brain connectivity during rest revealed training-related connectivity changes of the inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral middle frontal gyri. Taken together, CBM strengthens avoidance tendencies when faced with unhealthy foods and alters activity in brain regions underpinning behavioral inhibition