Strong Response Of Brain To Food Images Predicts Weigh Gain

April 20, 2012 11:40 PM EDT
cupcake ice cream cone
cupcake ice cream cone (Photo: Flickr)

Among overweight people, there are those who say “If I only see foods, I can’t suppress my appetite. A study says we cannot consider it as lack of their will or as a excuse about their gluttony.

April 17th, 2012, LiveSience released the study which showed that the activity in a region of the brain associated with reward can predict who will gain weight or have sex in the next six months.

According to the study, the reaction of young women's nucleus accumbens, which has been linked to both pleasure and addiction shows whether they are more likely to gain weight in the next six months or not. When they were exposed to the food pictures, if their nucleus reacts strongly, they are more likely to gain weight than women with muted reaction.

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Likewise, the intensity of reaction to the sexual image can tell whether they are more likely to be sexually active or not.

The researchers gathered 58 females and measured their weight and calculated their BMI. Next, while the women saw a series of delicious-looking foods images and people, including erotic pictures, the researchers scanned their volunteers' brain by using functional MRI. Six months later, they measured the females’ weight.

The research found out the women whose brain responded more strongly to the food images were more prone to gain weigh during the six months. Similar linkage was found in sexual desire and the brain reaction to the erotic images.

"Having the knowledge that these things can influence us in these implicit, unconscious sorts of ways is helpful in a sense because it allows us to be aware that when we're seeing these things we really have to be switched on and self-regulate."

The important found was that weight gain was linked only with a nucleus accumbens response to food images, and sexual desire and behavior are linked only to the response to erotic images.

Bill Kelley, a psychologist at Dartmouth University said, "Having the knowledge that these things can influence us in these implicit, unconscious sorts of ways is helpful in a sense because it allows us to be aware that when we're seeing these things we really have to be switched on and self-regulate."



 

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