Chronic stress exposure may affect the brain's response to high calorie food cues and predispose to obesogenic eating habits.
ABSTRACT Exaggerated reactivity to food cues involving calorically-dense foods may significantly contribute to food consumption beyond caloric need. Chronic stress, which can induce palatable "comfort" food consumption, may trigger or reinforce neural pathways leading to stronger reactions to highly rewarding foods. We implemented functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess whether chronic stress influences activation in reward, motivation and executive brain regions in response to pictures of high calorie and low calorie foods in thirty women. On separate lab visits, we also assessed food intake from a snack food buffet and circulating cortisol. In women reporting higher chronic stress (HCS), pictures of high calorie foods elicited exaggerated activity in regions of the brain involving reward, motivation, and habitual decision-making. In response to pictures of high calorie food, higher chronic stress was also associated with significant deactivation in frontal regions (BA10; BA46) linked to strategic planning and emotional control. In functional connectivity analysis, HCS strengthened connectivity between amygdala and the putamen, while LCS enhanced connectivity between amygdala and the anterior cingulate and anterior prefrontal cortex (BA10). A hypocortisolemic signature and more consumption of high calorie foods from the snack buffet were observed in the HCS group. These results suggest that persistent stress exposure may alter the brain's response to food in ways that predispose individuals to poor eating habits which, if sustained, may increase risk for obesity.
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ABSTRACT: In the studies reported here we have examined the role of the medial prefrontal cortex (MpFC) in regulating hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity under basal and stressful conditions. In preliminary studies we characterized corticosteroid receptor binding in the rat MpFC. The results revealed high-affinity (Kd approximately 1 nM) binding with a moderate capacity (42.9 +/- 3 fmol/mg) for 3H-aldosterone (with a 50-fold excess of cold RU28362; mineralocorticoid receptor) and high-affinity (Kd approximately 0.5-1.0 nM) binding with higher capacity (183.2 +/- 22 fmol/mg) for 3H-RU 28362 (glucocorticoid receptor). Lesions of the MpFC (cingulate gyrus) significantly increased plasma levels of both adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and corticosterone (CORT) in response to a 20 min restraint stress. The same lesions had no effect on hormone levels following a 2.5 min exposure to ether. Implants of crystalline CORT into the same region of the MpFC produced a significant decrease in plasma levels of both ACTH and CORT with restraint stress, but again, there was no effect with ether stress. Neither MpFC lesions nor CORT implants had any consistent effect on A.M. or P.M. levels of plasma ACTH or CORT. Manipulations of MpFC function were not associated with changes in the clearance rate for CORT or in corticosteroid receptor densities in the pituitary, hypothalamus, hippocampus, or amygdala. Taken together, these findings suggest that MpFC is a target site for the negative-feedback effects of glucocorticoids on stress-induced HPA activity, and that this effect is dependent upon the nature of the stress.Journal of Neuroscience 10/1993; 13(9):3839-47. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The effects of burnout and perceived stress on early morning free cortisol levels after awakening were investigated in a group of teachers. Previous studies revealed that cortisol levels show a significant increase after awakening, with high intraindividual stability. Sixty-six teachers from local public schools (42 women and 24 men, mean age 42+/-5 years) were asked to sample saliva for cortisol analysis on 3 consecutive days. On each day, cortisol levels were measured at the time of awakening and 15, 30, and 60 minutes thereafter. On the night before the third day, subjects took 0.5 mg dexamethasone orally for testing glucocorticoid feedback inhibition. Burnout and perceived stress were measured by three different questionnaires. Perceived stress correlated with increases of cortisol levels during the first hour after awakening after dexamethasone pretreatment. In addition, teachers scoring high on burnout showed lower overall cortisol secretion on all sampling days, and a higher suppression of cortisol secretion after dexamethasone administration. In the subgroup of teachers with both high levels of perceived stress and high levels of burnout, a lower overall cortisol secretion was observed on the first 2 days, with stronger increases during the first hour after awakening after dexamethasone suppression. This subgroup also showed the lowest self-esteem, the highest external locus of control, and the highest number of somatic complaints. These results demonstrate differential effects of burnout and perceived stress on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis regulation.Psychosomatic Medicine 61(2):197-204. · 4.08 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: An automated coordinate-based system to retrieve brain labels from the 1988 Talairach Atlas, called the Talairach Daemon (TD), was previously introduced [Lancaster et al., 1997]. In the present study, the TD system and its 3-D database of labels for the 1988 Talairach atlas were tested for labeling of functional activation foci. TD system labels were compared with author-designated labels of activation coordinates from over 250 published functional brain-mapping studies and with manual atlas-derived labels from an expert group using a subset of these activation coordinates. Automated labeling by the TD system compared well with authors' labels, with a 70% or greater label match averaged over all locations. Author-label matching improved to greater than 90% within a search range of +/-5 mm for most sites. An adaptive grey matter (GM) range-search utility was evaluated using individual activations from the M1 mouth region (30 subjects, 52 sites). It provided an 87% label match to Brodmann area labels (BA 4 & BA 6) within a search range of +/-5 mm. Using the adaptive GM range search, the TD system's overall match with authors' labels (90%) was better than that of the expert group (80%). When used in concert with authors' deeper knowledge of an experiment, the TD system provides consistent and comprehensive labels for brain activation foci. Additional suggested applications of the TD system include interactive labeling, anatomical grouping of activation foci, lesion-deficit analysis, and neuroanatomy education.Human Brain Mapping 08/2000; 10(3):120-31. · 6.88 Impact Factor