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Current state of the use of neuroimaging techniques to understand and alter appetite control in humans

Spetter, Maartje S.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: September 2018 - Volume 21 - Issue 5 - p 329–335
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000493
ASSESSMENT OF NUTRITIONAL AND METABOLIC STATUS: Edited by Dwight E. Matthews and Kristina Norman

Purpose of review It is in the brain where the decision is made what and how much to eat. In the last decades neuroimaging research has contributed extensively to new knowledge about appetite control by revealing the underlying brain processes. Interestingly, there is the fast growing idea of using these methods to develop new treatments for obesity and eating disorders. In this review, we summarize the findings of the importance of the use of neuropharmacology and neuroimaging techniques in understanding and modifying appetite control.

Recent findings Appetite control is a complex interplay between homeostatic, hedonic, and cognitive processes. Administration of the neuropeptides insulin and oxytocin curb food intake and alter brain responses in reward and cognitive control areas. Additionally, these areas can be targeted for neuromodulation or neurofeedback to reduce food cravings and increase self-control to alter food intake.

Summary The recent findings reveal the potential of intranasal administration of hormones or modifying appetite control brain networks to reduce food consumption in volunteers with overweight and obesity or individuals with an eating disorder. Although long-term clinical studies are still needed.

School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

Correspondence to Maartje S. Spetter, School of Psychology, 52 PR Building, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 7131; e-mail:

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