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PLoS One. 2008 Jul 30;3(7):e2827. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002827.

Increased resting-state functional connectivity in obese adolescents; a magnetoencephalographic pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Obesity is not only associated with metabolic abnormalities, but also with cognitive dysfunction and changes in the central nervous system. The present pilot study was carried out to investigate functional connectivity in obese and non-obese adolescents using magnetoencephalography (MEG).


Magnetoencephalographic recordings were performed in 11 obese (mean BMI 38.8+/-4.6 kg/m(2)) and 8 lean (mean BMI 21.0+/-1.5 kg/m(2)) female adolescents (age 12-19 years) during an eyes-closed resting-state condition. From these recordings, the synchronization likelihood (SL), a common method that estimates both linear and non-linear interdependencies between MEG signals, was calculated within and between brain regions, and within standard frequency bands (delta, theta, alpha1, alpha2, beta and gamma). The obese adolescents had increased synchronization in delta (0.5-4 Hz) and beta (13-30 Hz) frequency bands compared to lean controls (P(delta total) = 0.001; P(beta total) = 0.002).


This study identified increased resting-state functional connectivity in severe obese adolescents. Considering the importance of functional coupling between brain areas for cognitive functioning, the present findings strengthen the hypothesis that obesity may have a major impact on human brain function. The cause of the observed excessive synchronization is unknown, but might be related to disturbed motivational pathways, the recently demonstrated increase in white matter volume in obese subjects or altered metabolic processes like hyperinsulinemia. The question arises whether the changes in brain structure and communication are a dynamic process due to weight gain and whether these effects are reversible or not.

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