Evidence of gender differences in the ability to inhibit brain activation elicited by food stimulation

Gene Jack Wang, Nora D. Volkow, Frank Telang, Millard Jayne, Yeming Ma, Kith Pradhan, Wei Zhu, Christopher T. Wong, Panayotis K. Thanos, Allan Geliebter, Anat Biegon, Joanna S. Fowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although impaired inhibitory control is linked to a broad spectrum of health problems, including obesity, the brain mechanism(s) underlying voluntary control of hunger are not well understood. We assessed the brain circuits involved in voluntary inhibition of hunger during food stimulation in 23 fasted men and women using PET and 2-deoxy-2[18F]fluoro-D-glucose ( 18FDG). In men, but not in women, food stimulation with inhibition significantly decreased activation in amygdala, hippocampus, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and striatum, which are regions involved in emotional regulation, conditioning, and motivation. The suppressed activation of the orbitofrontal cortex with inhibition in men was associated with decreases in self-reports of hunger, which corroborates the involvement of this region in processing the conscious awareness of the drive to eat. This finding suggests a mechanism by which cognitive inhibition decreases the desire for food and implicates lower ability to suppress hunger in women as a contributing factor to gender differences in obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1254
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume106
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Jan 2009

Keywords

  • Amygdala
  • Cognitive inhibition
  • Food stimuli
  • Orbitofrontal cortex

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