Asymmetric prefrontal cortex activation in relation to markers of overeating in obese humans

Christopher N. Ochner, Deborah Green, J. Jason van Steenburgh, John Kounios, Michael R. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Dietary restraint is heavily influenced by affect, which has been independently related to asymmetrical activation in the prefrontal cortex (prefrontal asymmetry) in electroencephalograph (EEG) studies. In normal weight individuals, dietary restraint has been related to prefrontal asymmetry; however, this relationship was not mediated by affect. This study was designed to test the hypotheses that, in an overweight and obese sample, dietary restraint as well as binge eating, disinhibition, hunger, and appetitive responsivity would be related to prefrontal asymmetry independent of affect at the time of assessment. Resting EEG recordings and self-report measures of overeating and affect were collected in 28 overweight and obese adults. Linear regression analyses were used to predict prefrontal asymmetry from appetitive measures while controlling for affect. Cognitive restraint and binge eating were not associated with prefrontal asymmetry. However, disinhibition, hunger, and appetitive responsivity predicted left-, greater than right-, sided prefrontal cortex activation independent of affect. Findings in this study add to a growing literature implicating the prefrontal cortex in the cognitive control of dietary intake. Further research to specify the precise role of prefrontal asymmetry in the motivation toward, and cessation of, feeding in obese individuals is encouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-49
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Appetitive responsivity
  • Binge eating
  • Dietary restraint
  • Disinhibition
  • Frontal asymmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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