Eating is not only triggered by hunger but also by the sight of foods. Viewing appetizing foods alone can induce food craving and eating, although there is considerable variation in this “external food sensitivity” (EFS). Because increased EFS is associated with overeating, identifying its neural correlates is important for understanding the current epidemic of obesity. Animal research has identified the ventral striatum, amygdala, hypothalamus, medial prefrontal and premotor cortices as key interacting structures for feeding. However, it is unclear whether a similar network exists in humans and how it is affected by EFS. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we showed that viewing appetizing compared with bland foods produced changes in connectivity among the human ventral striatum, amygdala, anterior cingulate and premotor cortex that were strongly correlated with EFS. Differences in the dynamic interactions within the human appetitive network in response to pictures of appetizing foods may determine an individual's risk of obesity.
Passamonti, L., Rowe, J. B., Schwarzbauer, C., Ewbank , M., von dem Hagen, E., & Calder, A. J. (2009). Personality Predicts the Brain's Response to Viewing Appetizing Foods: The Neural Basis of a Risk Factor for Overeating. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(1), 43-51. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4966-08.2009