2 MIN READ | Cognitive Psychology

Keeping Weight Off Is Up to Your Brain, Not Just Willpower – According to New Research

Psychreg

Cite This
Psychreg, (2020, October 20). Keeping Weight Off Is Up to Your Brain, Not Just Willpower – According to New Research. Psychreg on Cognitive Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/weight-brain-willpower/
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 163 views

What if an MRI scan could determine whether a weight loss programme was likely to be effective? Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have discovered a neural subnetwork of connected regions between the brain and gastric basal electric frequency that correlates with future weight loss based on connectivity patterns.

BGU’s multidisciplinary team’s findings, published in the journal NeuroImage, ​support a prevalent neural theory that people with an increased neural response to seeing and smelling food consistently overeat and gain weight.

‘To our surprise, we discovered that while higher executive functions, as measured behaviourally, were dominant factors in weight loss, this was not reflected in patterns of brain connectivity,’ says Gidon Levakov, a graduate student, who led the study from the BGU Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. ‘Consequently, we found that weight loss is not merely a matter of willpower, but is actually connected to much more basic visual and olfactory cues.’

The researchers identified a connection between the stomach basal electric rhythm within the subnetwork and weight loss. That rhythm governs the gastric waves that are associated with hunger and satiety. They also found that the brain’s pericalcarine sulcus, the anatomical location of the primary visual cortex, was the most active node in this subnetwork.

The team assessed 92 people during an 18-month lifestyle weight loss intervention led by Prof. Iris Shai, of BGU’s Department of Epidemiology. The participants were selected based on large waist circumference, abnormal blood lipid levels and age.

Before the intervention, the participants underwent a battery of brain imaging scans and behavioural executive function tests. The participants’ weight loss was measured after six months of dieting, in which, according to Prof. Shai, the maximum weight loss is generally achieved.

The team found that the subnetwork of brain regions corresponded more closely to basic sensory and motor regions rather than higher, multi-modal regions.

‘It appears that visual information may be an important factor triggering eating,’ says principal investigator Professor Galia Avidan, from the BGU Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Psychology. ‘This is reasonable, given that vision is the primary sense in humans.’

The researchers note that these results may have significant implications toward understanding the cause of obesity and the mechanism of response to dieting.


Disclaimer: Psychreg is mainly for information purposes only. Materials on this website are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on this website. Read our full disclaimer here

Copy link