The overall goal of this project is to identify abnormal neurocircuitry patterns in adolescents with severe obesity. The researchers used the initial stages to compare neurobehavioral task performance between adolescents with and without severe obesity. They found that adolescents with severe obesity had poorer processing speed and cognitive flexibility as well as higher symptoms of ADHD and food addiction than adolescents with healthy weight. The group is now in Stage 4 of the project. Using fMRI, the primary goal of this stage is to compare functional connectivity at rest and during a food-choice task for adolescents with and without severe obesity. More specifically, in Stage 4 they aim to complete the following:
- Identify differences in frontostriatal functional connectivity at rest and during a Food Choice Task between adolescents with severe obesity and with healthy weight.
- Hypothesis 1: Adolescents with severe obesity will show decreased resting state functional connectivity in frontostriatal networks implicated in reward processing [i.e., nucleus accumbens (NAcc) / prefrontal cortex (PFC)] compared to healthy weight adolescents.
- Hypothesis 2: Compared with healthy weight adolescents, adolescents with severe obesity will show increased connectivity between NAcc/PFC when making choices between high- versus low-fat food images.
- Determine the association between functional connectivity and performance on neurobehavioral tasks of cognitive flexibility and self-reported food addiction for adolescents with and without severe obesity.
- Hypothesis 1: Neurobehavioral measures of cognitive flexibility and self-reported food addiction will be associated with region of interest functional connectivity (i.e., NAcc/PFC). That is, lower cognitive flexibility and higher food addiction will be associated with decreased functional connectivity in reward networks at rest, and with increased functional connectivity during food choice.
The researchers are using MSI for data analysis.