SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Neural correlates of an approach bias modification training in obesity
1Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Neurology, Leipzig, Germany/2IFB Adiposity Diseases, Leipzig University Medical Centre, Leipzig, Germany
   Eating behavior in obesity resembles addictive disorders in that individuals have difficulties inhibiting automatic behavior. They have a tendency to approach rather than avoid problematic stimuli. While this approach bias has been investigated on a behavioral level in obesity, neural correlates are not yet known. Bias modification trainings aim to change problematic approach behavior towards more beneficial routines. In this single-blind, randomized design 34 obese subjects completed either a cognitive bias modification (CBM) training or a sham-training while fMRI was performed. Subjects in the CBM group were implicitly trained to approach healthy and to avoid unhealthy food. We found that at baseline, all subjects showed an approach bias towards food and an increased activity in the angular gyrus when avoiding vs. approaching food. Via CBM training, we were able to diminish the approach bias towards unhealthy food, which was associated with a decrease in activation in the angular gyrus in the CBM group from pre- to post training. This is accompanied by an increase in functional connectivity between the angular gyrus and the R dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for the same condition as measured by PPI. Our results suggest that CBM training affects automatic reaction tendencies, as well as activation and connectivity of brain areas involved in attentional reorientation, suppressing stimulus-response conflicts and behavioral control.