Neuroimaging in Obesity Research, October 27-28, 2008
Home registration agenda logistics tawards participants abstracts


The brain clearly plays a multitude of roles in governing how and what we eat, and how our bodies use or store the energy that food provides. These include basic drives as disparate as hunger, the sensory and emotional pleasure associated with eating, the intellectual decisions surrounding food choices, and the central control of nutrient metabolism. It is becoming clear that the metabolic state of an individual, including excess weight, elicits changes in brain architecture and function. The need to combat the high incidence of obesity and its unfortunate consequences makes it important to understand how all of the homeostatic mechanisms under neural control fail to match calorie intake to metabolic need.

Functional neuroimaging, a research approach comprised of a growing suite of techniques, is increasingly used to identify the interacting areas of the brain that are associated with various physiological states, activities, and behaviors. The most widely used are Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and Magnetoencephalography (MEG), all of which can be safely used to monitor neuronal activity in the human brain. Recent studies provide confidence that functional neuroimaging can inform on the neural substrates of energy balance regulation, hunger, satiety, food craving, and other aspects of eating, as well as closely associated complex human behaviors such as decision-making and emotion.

This trans-NIH workshop is designed to:
  • Bring together and build common language among obesity researchers, behaviorists, and psychologists focused on weight management and metabolic health, and experienced functional neuroimaging researchers.
  • Share data and experiences with functional neuroimaging approaches to study brain involvement in various aspects of obesity such as weight gain and loss, eating behavior and eating disorders, the neurotransmitters and brain structures associated with energy balance, taste and smell, hunger, emotion, and decision-making.
  • Explore which questions central to obesity research lend themselves to study using functional neuroimaging, and the best techniques and experimental paradigms to use.
  • Discuss best practices in functional neuroimaging, including technology, experimental design, data analysis, and data interpretation, and explore the strengths and limitations of these approaches for learning about the brain in the obese state.

Sponsored by
Obesity Task Force, NIH

Dr. Peter Bandettini, NIMH, NIH
Dr. Angelo Del Parigi, Pfizer
Dr. Joel Elmquist, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dr. Rudolph Leibel, Columbia University
Dr. Samuel McClure, Stanford University

Dr. Thomas Aigner, NIDA; Dr. Mark Chavez, NIMH; Dr. Laurie Donze, NCCAM; Dr. Joseph Frascella, NIDA; Dr. Christine Hunter, NIDDK; Dr. Walter Kaye, UCSD; Dr. Maren Laughlin, NIDDK; Dr. Alan Mclaughlin, NIBIB; Dr. Deborah Olster, OBSSR, NIH; Dr. James Pekar, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Suzana Petanceska, NIA; Dr. David Poeppel, University of Maryland; Dr. Cary Savage, University of Kansas; Dr. Elliot Stein, NIDA; Dr. Susan Yanovski, NIDDK; Dr. Yantian Zhang, NIBIB.

For questions concerning program content, contact:
Dr. Maren Laughlin
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Two Democracy Plaza, Room 787
6707 Democracy Boulevard, MSC 5460
Bethesda, MD 20892-5460
Phone: (301) 594-8802
Fax: (301) 480-0475

For questions concerning meeting logistics, contact:
John Hare, CMP
The Scientific Consulting Group, Inc.
656 Quince Orchard Road, Suite 210
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Phone: (301) 670-4990
Fax: (301) 670-3815