Brain networks can play a role in successful weight loss
Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine have found that two specific brain networks can greatly affect how successfully a person loses weight.
According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Jonathan Burdet, a professor of radiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the findings are published in the April issue of the journal. Obesitymay ultimately help develop individual behavioral-based treatments aimed at specific brain patterns to aid in weight loss.
The aim of this study was to determine whether the degree of weight loss after six months of behavior-based intervention was related to connection within two functional networks (FNs), FN1 and FN2, in the obese elderly group. Functional brain networks are areas of the brain that work together in synchronization.
FN1 and FN2 were first identified by Berdet and his team in 2018 as participants in successful weight loss.
“These findings show that the properties of the brain network of people who were less successful in weight loss were different from people who were more successful.” – Dr. Jonathan Burdet
In this study, 71 participants who participated in a randomized clinical trial on weight loss were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine whether FN1 and FN2 would predict weight loss, and if so, how. Participants were scanned at rest and then again after receiving a task with a food hint. At the end of the six-month trial, data were analyzed to compare the relationship between core networks and the change in weight of participants.
The Burdette team found that at rest the relationship between brain function in FN1, which includes sensory and motility, was significantly associated with six months of weight loss. During the food replica state, six-month weight loss was significantly associated with FN2, which includes self-regulation and the ability to focus.
Two different shifts in the brain network are related to the degree of success of weight loss: at rest there is a sensory-motor motivational bias to seek food, while when processing food signals there is a deficit of the network of executive control and attention.
“These findings show that the properties of the brain network of people who were less successful in weight loss were different from people who were more successful,” Burdet said. “Some people have stronger unconscious sensory motor biases to seek food, while others seem to be less so. In a food-rich society with food tips everywhere, this information can help explain why some people find it so difficult to lose weight and maintain it. ”
This is the first study that links key concepts that have been identified as important in understanding obesity and overeating, with success with behavioral weight loss among obese older people.
“Our findings give a further insight into the complex functional chains in the brain, so now we have a mechanistic understanding of why people don’t lose weight,” Burdet said. “Theoretically, if you know more about urges and control, we will be able to adapt therapy for the person, not the same attitude to everyone.”
Funding for the study was provided by the Institute of Aging (R01AG051624-03S2); National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (R18 HL076441); nat
Institute of Aging (P30 AG021332), National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (R01EB024559) and Wake Forest Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (UL1TR001420).
Reference: “Longitudinal connection of basic functional networks of the brain with intentional weight loss in the elderly” by Jonathan H. Burdet, Mohsen Bahrami, Paul J. Lawrence, Sean L. Simpson, Barbara J. Nicklas, Jason Fanning and W. Jack Reeski, March 25, 2022, Obesity.
DOI: 10.1002 / oby.23396
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