Neuroeconomics Seminar

It Wasn't Me, It Was My Brain – Characteristics of Brain Circuits Governing Decision Making in Obesity

Annette Horstmann (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences & University of Leipzig)
It Wasn't Me, It Was My Brain – Characteristics of Brain Circuits Governing Decision Making in Obesity
February 23, 2017 | 17:00 - 18:00 | BLU-003

Despite our shared obesogenic environment, not everybody is at risk of getting obese, and treatment response is characterized by a high inter-individual variability. The concept of free choice of diet and lifestyle stresses individual decision-making behavior as the main driver of obesity. This leaves the individual with the sole responsibility for dealing with the adverse consequences of overeating. However, recent data suggest that obesity and associated eating behavior are paralleled by changes in structure and function of dopaminergic fronto-striatal circuits of the brain. Thus, the very substrate of decision-making might be different in individuals with obesity. I will present data illustrating that obesity is associated with profound changes in decision-making behavior and its underlying brain networks. Findings are interpreted in the context of obesity-associated alterations of the dopaminergic system, a potent driver of motivation and reinforcement learning. Taken together, data indicate that personal choice in obesity is compromised by neuronal alterations.