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Biol Psychol. 2018 Sep;137:34-41. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.06.005. Epub 2018 Jun 23.

Altered neural inhibition responses to food cues after Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass.

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Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands; Image Sciences Institute, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Vitalys Obesity Centre, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, The Netherlands.
Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Electronic address:



Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery is a highly effective weight-loss intervention that often reduces preference and intake of high-energy foods. Research into the neural mechanisms behind this shift has mainly focused on reward processing of food cues. However, the ability to successfully control food intake and thereby weight-loss also depends on inhibitory control capacity. We investigated whether RYGB leads to alterations in neural inhibitory control in response to food cues.


A food-specific go/no-go task with pictures of high-energy (desserts) and low-energy foods (vegetables), was used to assess neural inhibition responses before and after RYGB with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Data from 18 morbidly obese patients (15 females; age 41 ± 11 years; BMI 42 ± 4 kg/m2 before; BMI 36 ± 4 kg/m2 after) were analysed. Pre- and post-RYGB BOLD fMRI responses were compared for response inhibition towards high- and low-energy foods. Participants were tested in a satiated state.


Response inhibition to high-energy foods was associated with increased activation of the right lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), right medial PFC, dorsolateral PFC, right middle cingulate cortex and the right inferior frontal operculum (involved in inhibitory control), after compared to before surgery. Response inhibition to low-energy foods elicited diminished post- compared to pre-surgery responses in the left superior temporal pole, right parahippocampal gyrus and right hypothalamus (involved in metabolic control).


Neural changes indicate improved response inhibition towards high-energy food cues, altered influence of metabolic control during response inhibition towards low-energy food cues and a more positive attitude to both high-energy and low-energy food after RYGB. Alterations in neural circuits involved in inhibitory control, satiety signalling and reward processing may contribute to effective weight-loss after RYGB.


Bariatric surgery; Food preferences; Impulsivity; Inhibitory control; Weight-Loss; fMRI; go/no-go

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