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J Nutr. 2012 Apr;142(4):795-802. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.153445. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

Anterior cingulate taste activation predicts ad libitum intake of sweet and savory drinks in healthy, normal-weight men.

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  • 1Image Sciences Institute, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


After food consumption, the motivation to eat (wanting) decreases and associated brain reward responses change. Wanting-related brain responses and how these are affected by consumption of specific foods are ill documented. Moreover, the predictive value of food-induced brain responses for subsequent consumption has not been assessed. We aimed to determine the effects of consumption of sweet and savory foods on taste activation in the brain and to assess how far taste activation can predict subsequent ad libitum intake. Fifteen healthy men (age: 27 ± 2 y, BMI: 22.0 ± 1.5 kg/m2) participated in a randomized crossover trial. After a >3-h fast, participants were scanned with the use of functional MRI before and after consumption of a sweet or savory preload (0.35 L fruit or tomato juice) on two occasions. After the scans, the preload juice was consumed ad libitum. During scanning, participants tasted the juices and rated their pleasantness. Striatal taste activation decreased after juice consumption, independent of pleasantness. Sweet and savory taste activation were not differentially affected by consumption. Anterior cingulate taste activation predicted subsequent ad libitum intake of sweet (r = -0.78; P < 0.001(uncorrected)) as well as savory juice (r = -0.70; P < 0.001(uncorrected)). In conclusion, we showed how taste activation of brain reward areas changes following food consumption. These changes may be associated with the food's physiological relevance. Further, the results suggest that anterior cingulate taste activation reflects food-specific satiety. This extends our understanding of the representation of food specific-appetite in the brain and shows that neuroimaging may provide objective and more accurate measures of food motivation than self-report measures.

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