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Regional cerebral blood flow during food exposure in obese and normal-weight women.

L J Karhunen, R I Lappalainen, E J Vanninen, J T Kuikka, M I Uusitupa
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/120.9.1675 1675-1684 First published online: 1 September 1997


The cerebral responses elicited by the sight of food and food-related cues are poorly known in humans. Therefore, regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured during food exposure in 11 obese and 12 normal-weight women. The rCBF was mapped while the subject was looking at a picture of a landscape (control) or at a portion of food (food exposure), and was measured by 99mTc-ethyl-cysteine-dimer single photon emission computed tomography. In the obese women, the rCBF was higher in the right parietal and temporal cortices during the food exposure than in the control condition. In addition, in the obese women the activation of the right parietal cortex was associated with an enhanced feeling of hunger when looking at food. No such changes or associations were seen in the normal-weight women. In conclusion, exposure to food is associated with increases in the rCBF of right parietal and temporal cortices in obese women, but not in normal-weight women.