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Keywords:

  • obesity;
  • resting state;
  • salience;
  • putamen;
  • fMRI;
  • reward

Obesity is a major health problem in modern societies. It has been related to abnormal functional organization of brain networks believed to process homeostatic (internal) and/or salience (external) information. This study used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging analysis to delineate possible functional changes in brain networks related to obesity. A group of 18 healthy adult participants with obesity were compared with a group of 16 lean participants while performing a resting-state task, with the data being evaluated by independent component analysis. Participants also completed a neuropsychological assessment. Results showed that the functional connectivity strength of the putamen nucleus in the salience network was increased in the obese group. We speculate that this abnormal activation may contribute to overeating through an imbalance between autonomic processing and reward processing of food stimuli. A correlation was also observed in obesity between activation of the putamen nucleus in the salience network and mental slowness, which is consistent with the notion that basal ganglia circuits modulate rapid processing of information. Hum Brain Mapp 34:2786–2797, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.