ACHEMS 2019
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SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Is Eating Disinhibition Associated with Altered Functional Connectivity of the Primary Gustatory Cortex with Secondary Gustatory Cortex, Reward or Memory Regions in Metabolic Syndrome?
Claire Murphy1,2,3, Ekarin E. Pongpipat1, Aaron Jacobson2
1San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, United States
2University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States
3SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program, San Diego, CA, United States

Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a constellation of risk factors (hypertension, fasting hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hypoalphalipoproteinemia and abdominal obesity) that together confer increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Habitual disinhibition of eating behavior is strongly associated with weight gain longitudinally.  Here we used 3T functional MRI to investigate whether functional connectivity of the primary and secondary gustatory cortices during hedonic evaluation of sucrose was altered in MetS and whether it was associated with eating disinhibition. Participants were 14 with MetS and 14 without MetS. Disinhibition was operationally defined by the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire. Functional connectivity (FC) was analyzed using seed-to-whole brain generalized psychophysiological interaction methods. FC of the primary and secondary gustatory cortices was significantly altered in MetS and the relationship between the FC of the primary and secondary gustatory cortices was significantly correlated with eating disinhibition scores. As FC increased, eating disinhibition increased. Furthermore, FC of the frontal operculum and OFC BA47 provided an indirect path as the mediator between MetS risk factors and eating disinhibition. Exploratory results also revealed significantly altered FC of the primary gustatory cortex with brain regions associated with memory and reward in MetS. These findings suggest that individuals with MetS have altered FC of the gustatory cortices that is related to eating disinhibition. We speculate that individuals with MetS may have more difficulty with weight loss interventions because of a lack of inhibition related to altered FC of the primary with the secondary gustatory cortex, in addition to regions associated with memory and reward.