Brain networks associated with cognitive and hedonic responses to a meal

Research paper by T. Pribic, L. Kilpatrick, B. Ciccantelli, C. Malagelada, A. Accarino, A. Rovira, D. Pareto, E. Mayer, F. Azpiroz

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 23 Jan '17Published in: Neurogastroenterology & Motility


We recently reported interrelated digestive, cognitive, and hedonic responses to a meal. The aim of this study was to identify brain networks related to the hedonic response to eating.Thirty-eight healthy subjects (20-38 age range) were evaluated after a 5-hour fast and after ingestion of a test meal (juice and warm ham and cheese sandwich, 300 mL, 425 kcal). Perceptual and affective responses (satiety, abdominal fullness, digestive well-being, and positive mood), and resting scans of the brain using functional MRI (3T Trio, Siemens, Germany) were evaluated immediately before and after the test meal. A high-order group independent component analysis was performed to investigate ingestion-related changes in the intrinsic connectivity of brain networks, with a focus on thalamic and insular networks.Ingestion induced satiation (3.3±0.4 score increase; P<.001) and abdominal fullness (2.4±0.3 score increase; P<.001). These sensations included an affective dimension involving digestive well-being (2.8±0.3 score increase; P<.001) and positive mood (1.8±0.2 score increase; P<.001). In general, thalamo-cortical connectivity increased with meal ingestion while insular-cortical connectivity mainly decreased. Furthermore, larger meal-induced changes (increase/decrease) in specific thalamic connections were associated with smaller changes in satiety/fullness. In contrast, a larger meal-induced decrease in insular-anterior cingulate cortex connectivity was associated with increased satiety, fullness, and digestive well-being.Perceptual and emotional responses to food intake are related to brain connectivity in defined functional networks. Brain imaging may provide objective biomarkers of subjective effects of meal ingestion.