Certain Brain Networks Aid Weight Loss, Research Reveals


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Brain News

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine explored how functional brain networks play a significant role in weight loss success. The study is published in the journal Obesity.

The Study

In a 2018 study, the same research team had identified two functional brain networks (FNs), FN1 and FN2, that are associated with successful weight loss among older adults. FN1 is linked to sensory and motor skills, whereas FN2 is concerned with self-regulation and the ability to focus attention.

In the present six-month study, the researchers enrolled 71 elderly participants with obesity who accessed a weight-loss intervention. fMRI scans of their brain were conducted in a resting state and during a food-cue task to determine if FN1 and FN2 helped them to lose weight. At the end of the trial, the data was analyzed to confirm how a behavior-based intervention related to connectivity within the two functional networks led to weight loss.

The Findings

The results showed that, during the resting state, brain function in FN1 influences weight loss by withholding a stronger unconscious sensory-motor bias to pursue food. During the food-cue state, six-month weight loss is significantly associated with FN2 which addresses a deficit in the executive control and attention network.

Towards Interventions

The researchers are enthusiastic that this research can help develop behavior-based interventions and treatment plans that target specific brain circuitry to aid in weight loss success.

One of the lead researchers, Dr. Jonathan Burdette, elaborated: “In theory, if you know more about urges and control, we will be able to tailor therapies to an individual as opposed to treating everyone the same.”

To Know More You May Refer To

Burdette, J. H., Bahrami, M., Laurienti, P. J., Simpson, S. L., Nicklas, B. J., Fanning, J., & Rejeski, W. J. (2022). Longitudinal relationship of baseline functional brain networks with intentional weight loss in older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 30(4), 902–910. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.23396

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