Obesity is associated with reduced cortical thickness and brain volume, which may be related to poor nutrition. Given that brain atrophy in anorexia nervosa recovers with nutritional improvements and weight gain, it is worth examining how brain structure changes at the other end of the weight spectrum with weight loss. Thus, this study aimed to examine change in cortical thickness and brain volume in 47 patients with severe obesity who participated in no treatment, behavioral weight loss, or bariatric surgery. T1-weighted MRI scans were conducted pre-treatment and approximately four months later. Measures of cortical thickness, gray matter volume, and white matter volume were compared between time points. Despite overall reduction in BMI, there was no significant change in cortical thickness. There was a significant increase in left hemisphere gray matter and white matter volumes across the sample. At baseline and follow-up, there was no relationship between cortical thickness or brain volumes and BMI. This study is the first to examine changes in cortical thickness and brain volume with weight loss in adults with obesity and the findings show partial support for the hypotheses that weight loss results in increased cortical gray and white matter.
Bohon, C., & Geliebter, A. (2018). Change in brain volume and cortical thickness after behavioral and surgical weight loss intervention. NeuroImage: Clinical, 21, 101640. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2018.101640
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