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Journal Article

Reliance on model-based and model-free control in obesity

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

Mahner,  Florian P.
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Schlagenhauf,  Florian
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany;

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Deserno,  Lorenz
Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, United Kingdom;
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, United Kingdom;
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital Würzburg, Germany;

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

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Janssen_2020.pdf
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Citation

Janssen, L., Mahner, F. P., Schlagenhauf, F., Deserno, L., & Horstmann, A. (2020). Reliance on model-based and model-free control in obesity. Scientific Reports, 10(1): 22433. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-79929-0.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-AAA5-F
Abstract
Consuming more energy than is expended may reflect a failure of control over eating behaviour in obesity. Behavioural control arises from a balance between two dissociable strategies of reinforcement learning: model-free and model-based. We hypothesized that weight status relates to an imbalance in reliance on model-based and model-free control, and that it may do so in a linear or quadratic manner. To test this, 90 healthy participants in a wide BMI range [normal-weight (n = 31), overweight (n = 29), obese (n = 30)] performed a sequential decision-making task. The primary analysis indicated that obese participants relied less on model-based control than overweight and normal-weight participants, with no difference between overweight and normal-weight participants. In line, secondary continuous analyses revealed a negative linear, but not quadratic, relationship between BMI and model-based control. Computational modelling of choice behaviour suggested that a mixture of both strategies was shifted towards less model-based control in obese participants. Our findings suggest that obesity may indeed be related to an imbalance in behavioural control as expressed in a phenotype of less model-based control potentially resulting from enhanced reliance on model-free computations.