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Neuroimage. 2006 Sep;32(3):1273-80. Epub 2006 Jul 11.

Subjective feeling of appetite modulates brain activity: an fMRI study.

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MEG-Center, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.


Obesity and overweight are important risk factors for the development of diabetes mellitus type 2 and associated chronic diseases, and therefore, they have become serious global problems in the western and developed countries. But little is known about the neuroanatomical correlates of eating behavior and its influences on the central nervous processing in humans. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the cortical activation in 12 lean healthy humans during visual stimulation with food-related and nonfood pictures after a fasting period of at least 5 h. Compared to the nonfood pictures, the food stimuli elicited a significantly greater activity in the left orbitofrontal cortex and the insular/opercular cortex bilaterally with a stronger focus on the left side. Subjective ratings of appetite during the presentation of food-related stimuli modulated the activity in the insula bilaterally, the left operculum and the right putamen. These results provide further insights in the central nervous processing of food relevant stimuli in humans, specifically with respect to the subjective experience of appetite.

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