Functional neuroimaging in obesity

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Abstract

Purpose of review

This review examines recent advances in the use of functional neuroimaging to study human obesity, a field that is rapidly expanding and continues to be of paramount importance for a better understanding of the pathogenesis of this condition. With rising levels of obesity worldwide and limited therapeutic options, there is a great need for the development of new solutions that can benefit patients.

Recent findings

Studies that utilize functional neuroimaging are beginning to shed light on the nature of behavioral and neurocognitive dysfunctions previously identified in individuals with obesity. Significant progress has occurred in the study of reward-related processes, cognition–reward interactions, mechanisms of weight loss, genetic influences and the case of obesity in children and adolescents. Research findings confirm that obesity and its related overeating behaviors are strongly associated with the brain, both at a regional level and a large-scale network level.

Summary

Functional neuroimaging studies bring unprecedented levels of detail to examine the brain basis of obesity and show promise for the development of future brain-based biomarkers and interventions in this condition.

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