Working Memory in Overweight Children With and Without Loss of Control Eating

2019-10-11 10:03:42 | BioPortfolio


Loss of control (LOC) eating in children is associated with multiple physical and mental health impairments, including obesity and eating disorders. Little is known about the developmental neurobiology of LOC, which is crucial to specifying its pathophysiology and the development of effective preventive interventions. Individual differences in working memory (WM) appear to be related to LOC eating and excess weight status in youth, but the specificity and neural correlates of these individual differences are unclear. Failure to adequately understand the nature of associations between WM and eating behavior in children with overweight/obesity limits the development of appropriately-targeted, neuro-developmentally informed interventions addressing problematic eating and related weight gain in youth. To close this clinical research gap, the current study proposes to investigate the context-dependence of WM impairment and its neural correlates in children with concomitant overweight/ obesity and LOC eating as compared to their overweight/obese peers.

Specific aims are to investigate:

1)WM performance in youth with LOC eating relative to overweight/obese controls during recalls in the context of food-related versus neutral distractors; and 2) neural activation patterns during WM performance across both food-related and neutral stimuli. We hypothesize that, relative to their overweight/obese peers, youth with LOC eating will show 1) more errors and slower response times during recalls involving food-related vs. neutral distractors, and fewer errors and faster response times during recalls involving food-related vs. neutral targets; 2) increased activation in prefrontal regions during WM performance across stimuli types relative to overweight/obese controls, and 3) even greater activation in the context of food-related versus neutral distractors.

The proposed study is the first to use state-of-the-science neuroimaging methodology to clarify the relations between WM and LOC eating, with strong potential to advance understanding of the associations among executive functioning, excess weight status, and eating pathology, and inform the development of interventions (e.g., WM training) to alleviate their cumulative personal and societal burden.

Study Design


Binge Eating




Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center
Rhode Island
United States




The Miriam Hospital

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-10-11T10:03:42-0400

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