Monetary reward processing in obese individuals with and without binge eating disorder

Iris M. Balodis, Hedy Kober, Patrick D. Worhunsky, Marney A. White, Michael C. Stevens, Godfrey D. Pearlson, Rajita Sinha, Carlos M. Grilo, Marc N. Potenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Background: An important step in obesity research involves identifying neurobiological underpinnings of nonfood reward processing unique to specific subgroups of obese individuals. Methods: Nineteen obese individuals seeking treatment for binge eating disorder (BED) were compared with 19 non-BED obese individuals (OB) and 19 lean control subjects (LC) while performing a monetary reward/loss task that parses anticipatory and outcome components during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Differences in regional activation were investigated in BED, OB, and LC groups during reward/loss prospect, anticipation, and notification. Results: Relative to the LC group, the OB group demonstrated increased ventral striatal and ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity during anticipatory phases. In contrast, the BED group relative to the OB group demonstrated diminished bilateral ventral striatal activity during anticipatory reward/loss processing. No differences were observed between the BED and LC groups in the ventral striatum. Conclusions: Heterogeneity exists among obese individuals with respect to the neural correlates of reward/loss processing. Neural differences in separable groups with obesity suggest that multiple, varying interventions might be important in optimizing prevention and treatment strategies for obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-886
Number of pages10
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Binge eating disorder
  • fMRI
  • inferior frontal gyrus
  • insula
  • obesity
  • reward
  • ventral striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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