Frontal attentional responses to food size are abnormal in obese subjects: An electroencephalographic study

Claudio Babiloni, Claudio Del Percio, Anna Valenzano, Nicola Marzano, Mario De Rosas, Annamaria Petito, Antonello Bellomo, Giuseppe Rossi, Brunello Lecce, Ciro Mundi, Roberta Lizio, Fabrizio Eusebi, Giuseppe Cibelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Are obese subjects characterized by a reduction of attentional cortical responses to the enlargement of food or body images? Methods: Electroencephalographic data were recorded in 19 obese and 15 normal-weight adults during an "oddball" paradigm. The subjects were given frequent (70%) and rare (30%) stimuli depicting faces (FACE), food (FOOD), and landscapes (CONTROL), and clicked the mouse after the rare stimuli. These stimuli depicted the same frequent stimuli graphically dilated by 25% along the horizontal axis. Bioelectrical impedance indexed subjects' body fat percentage. Cortical attentional responses were probed by the difference between positive event-related potentials peaking around 400-500 ms post-stimulus for the rare minus frequent stimuli (P300). Low resolution electromagnetic source tomography (LORETA) estimated P300 sources. Results: In the FOOD condition, the amplitude of medial prefrontal P300 sources (Brodmann area 9) was lower in the obese than normal-weight subjects, and there was a negative correlation between the body fat percentage and the amplitude of these sources in all subjects as a single group. Conclusions: These results disclose that prefrontal attentional processes to food size are abnormal in obese subjects. Significance: The present study motivates future research evaluating the effects of cognitive rehabilitation in obese subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1441-1448
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Low resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA)
  • Normal-weight subjects
  • Obese subjects
  • P300

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Sensory Systems


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