Galia Avidan, a Professor in the Psychology Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Title: Neural correlates of future weight loss reveal a possible role for brain-gastric interactions
Abstract: Lifestyle dietary interventions are an essential practice in treating obesity, hence neural factors that may assist in predicting individual treatment success are of great significance. Here, in a prospective, open-label, three arms study, we examined the correlation between brain resting-state functional connectivity measured at baseline and weight loss following 6 months of lifestyle intervention in 92 overweight participants. We report a robust subnetwork composed mainly of sensory and motor cortical regions, whose edges correlated with future weight loss. This effect was found regardless of intervention group. Importantly, this main finding was further corroborated using a stringent connectivity-based prediction model assessed with cross-validation thus attesting to its robustness. The engagement of senso-motor regions in this subnetwork is consistent with the over-sensitivity to food cues theory of weight regulation. Finally, we tested an additional hypothesis regarding the role of brain-gastric interaction in this subnetwork, considering recent findings of a cortical network synchronized with gastric activity. Accordingly, we found a significant spatial overlap with the subnetwork reported in the present study. Moreover, power in the gastric basal electric frequency within our reported subnetwork negatively correlated with future weight loss. This finding was specific to the weight loss-related subnetwork and to the gastric basal frequency. These findings should be further corroborated by combining direct recordings of gastric activity in future studies. Taken together, these intriguing results may have important implications for our understanding of the etiology of obesity and the mechanism of response to dietary intervention as well as to interoceptive perception more generally.