Altered neural correlates of episodic memory in adolescents with severe obesity

Alaina L. Pearce, Eleanor Mackey, J. Bradley C. Cherry, Alexandra Olson, Xiaozhen You, Evan P. Nadler, Chandan J. Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Negative effects of obesity on memory and associated medial temporal circuitry have been noted in animal models, but the status in humans, particularly children, is not well established. Our study is the first to examine neural correlates of successful memory encoding of visual scenes and their associated context in adolescents with severe obesity (age 14–18 years, 43% male). Despite similar subsequent memory as adolescents without obesity (BMI for age and sex <95th percentile), those with severe obesity (BMI for age and sex 120% above the 95th percentile) showed reduced hippocampal, parahippocampal, frontal, and parietal engagement during encoding of remembered visual scenes and greater lateral temporal engagement during encoding of their associated context. Standardized testing revealed a trend level group difference in memory performance, with a larger magnitude of obesity-related difference in recollection-related memory that was mediated by individual differences in lateral temporal activation during contextual encoding. The observed widespread functional alterations are concerning in light of the importance of mnemonic processing for academic achievement and feeding behavior and underscore the need for prevention and intervention initiatives for pediatric obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100727
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Dec 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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