Enhanced resting activity of the oral somatosensory cortex in obese subjects

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The cerebral mechanisms underlying excess food intake in obese subjects are poorly understood. We used PET and 2-deoxy-2[18F]fluoro-D-glucose to assess differences in regional brain metabolism between obese and lean subjects at rest. Brain metabolic images were analyzed using statistical parameter maps. We found that obese subjects have significantly higher metabolic activity in the bilateral parietal somatosensory cortex in the regions where sensation to the mouth, lips and tongue are located. The enhanced activity in somatosensory regions involved with sensory processing of food in the obese subjects could make them more sensitive to the rewarding properties of food related to palatability and could be one of the variables contributing to their excess food consumption.

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