Brain response to food brands correlates with increased intake from branded meals in children: an fMRI study

Travis D. Masterson, Wendy M. Stein, Emma Beidler, Maria Bermudez, Laural K. English, Kathleen L. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Food branding is ubiquitous, however, not all children are equally susceptible to its effects. The objectives of this study were to 1) determine whether food brands evoke differential response than non-food brands in brain areas related to motivation and inhibitory control using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and 2) determine the association between brain response and energy intake at test-meals presented with or without brands. Twenty-eight 7–10 year-old children completed four visits as part of a within-subjects design where they consumed three multi-item test-meals presented with familiar food brands, novel food brand, and no brand. On the fourth visit an fMRI was performed where children passively viewed food brands, non-food brands and control images. A whole-brain analysis was conducted to compare BOLD response between conditions. Pearson’s correlations were calculated to determine the association between brain response and meal intake. Relative to non-food brands, food brand images were associated with increased activity in the right lingual gyrus. Relative to control, food and non-food brand images were associated with greater response in bilateral fusiform gyri and decreased response in the cuneus, precuneus, lingual gyrus, and supramarginal gyrus. Less activation in the bilateral fusiform gyrus to both food and non-food brands was associated with greater energy intake of the branded vs unbranded meal. These findings may help explain differences in the susceptibility to the intake-promoting effects of food advertising in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1035-1048
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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