Eat today, pay tomorrow:
lean women think ahead
Being overweight is associated with profound, gender-dependent structural alterations in the brain. In men and women, changes are seen in brain regions involved in reward processing (orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum) and the regulation of hunger (hypothalamus) (top row). In women, Body Mass Index is associated with additional changes in regions that are important for impulse control (dorsal striatum; lower row).
(Medical Xpress) -- Being overweight is accompanied by changes in brain structure and behaviour. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Integrated Research and Treatment Center AdiposityDiseases in Leipzig have shown that there are also differences between men and women.
The research studied normal and overweight men and women, who took part in a game of luck. Their results showed that overweight women kept choosing the option that promised attractive short-term rewards but led to long-term losses. Men also consistently did the same regardless of their weight. Only the lean women demonstrated that they took the possible long-term consequences of their actions into account. An investigation of the participants brain structure shows possible reasons for this. Men and women who are overweight show changes in brain regions that have been linked with the processing of rewards and feelings of satiety after eating. In the women who were overweight, additional changes were found in areas that are important for goal-directed control of behaviour. This new knowledge may help to tailor treatments of obesity specifically for each gender.
In order to compare brain structure and impulsive behaviour in normal and overweight men and women, the researchers in Leipzig utilised a computerised card game commonly used in psychology, known as the Iowa Gambling Task. In this game, the participants chose between two decks of cards with differing risks and success rates. In principle, this task mirrors the everyday trade-off between immediate reward from overeating and the negative long-term consequences this will have on ones body, explains Annette Horstmann, principle investigator of the study. Women who were overweight tended to select the more short-sighted option. They were much more likely to choose the deck of cards which led to higher short-term success but a negative outcome in the long term. While lean women learned to avoid the deck that led to long-term losses, the overweight women continued to employ the strategy that focused on immediate rewards. There was no difference in the behaviour of lean and overweight men, which was highly similar to that of the overweight women.
Using voxel-based morphometry, a form of MRI, the volume of grey matter in the participants brains was assessed. In general, participants who were overweight had a greater density of grey matter in areas associated with reward processing. Likewise, the hypothalamus, a brain region known to be connected with the control of hunger and satiety, was much larger in overweight men and women. In contrast, areas associated with the cognitive control of goal-directed behaviour were significantly different between lean women and women who were overweight.
The lack of impulse control which accompanies this is a further indication that obesity in otherwise healthy individuals should be classified as an addictive behaviour, says Horstmann. The same structural changes have been found in previous studies examining women with bulimia. This suggests that the differences in grey matter are not directly connected with being overweight but with the eating behaviour itself. Whether changed eating behaviour and the lack of impulse control cause the structural changes in the brain or vice versa remains to be established in future studies.
More information: Busse FP, Mathar D, Mueller K, Lepsien J, Schloegl H, Kabisch S, Kratzsch J, Neumann J, Stumvoll M, Villringer A, Pleger B. Obesity-related differences between women and men in brain structure and goal-directed behavior. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 2011 5:58. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00058
Provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
- Overweight men at risk of osteoarthritis of both hip and knee May 28, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Very few overweight women happy Jun 30, 2005 | not rated yet | 0
- Effects of obesity on the brain: first evidence of sex-related differences Apr 19, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Shame on you: tough-love approach to obesity may backfire May 03, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Preterm births higher among overweight and obese mothers Jul 21, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
New research presented today shows that formation of new neurons in the hippocampus - a brain region known for its importance in learning and remembering - could cause forgetting of old memories by causing a reorganization ...
Neuroscience 6 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
Neuroscience 7 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 2
One of the major frontiers of modern science is a comprehensive understanding of the human brain and its functions to guide the development of new technologies in information and communication. In a major announcement for ...
Neuroscience 7 hours ago | 1 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
Neuroscience 22 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (9) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—The human brain is able to identify individuals' voices by comparing them against an internal 'average voice' prototype, according to neuroscientists.
Neuroscience May 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 3 |
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
7 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
4 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
4 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Menopausal hormone therapy should not be used for prevention of coronary heart disease, according to a Committee Opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published ...
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0