2 Scopus citations


Larger portions of food elicit greater intake than smaller portions of food, particularly when foods are high in energy density (kcal/g; ED). The neural mechanisms underlying this effect remain unclear. The present study used fMRI to assess brain activation to food (higher-ED, lower-ED) and non-food (office supplies) images presented in larger and smaller (i.e., age-appropriate) amounts in 61, 7-8-year-olds (29 male, 32 female) without obesity. Larger amounts of food increased activation in bilateral visual and right parahippocampal areas compared to smaller amounts; greater activation to food amount (larger > smaller) in this cluster was associated with smaller increases in food intake as portions increased. Activation to amount (larger > smaller) was stronger for food than office supplies in primary and secondary visual areas, but, for office supplies only, extended into bilateral parahippocampus, inferior parietal cortex, and additional visual areas (e.g., V7). Activation was greater for higher-vs. lower-ED food images in ventromedial prefrontal cortex for both larger and smaller amounts of food; however, this activation extended into left lateral orbital frontal cortex for smaller amounts only. Activation to food cues did not differ by familial risk for obesity. These results highlight potentially distinct neural pathways for encoding food energy content and quantity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107289
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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