Neurocognitive influences on eating behavior in children

Kathleen L. Keller, Amanda S. Bruce

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has provided insight about the role of the brain in processing food cues; however, the extent to which these brain responses predict eating behaviors, particularly in children, is unclear. We review what is known about the role of the brain in driving pediatric food intake decisions, with emphasis on the importance of including objective measures of eating behavior to move the field forward. Because children’s brains are undergoing developmental changes, pediatric neuroimaging presents challenges for both execution and analysis. Issues pertinent to pediatric samples that can impact scan success include movement, brain anatomy, and body size. We discuss ways in which these challenges can be overcome by conducting prescan training and designing experiments that include relevant indicators of overconsumption in youth (e.g., loss of control, eating speed). Studies that include children should be aware of developmental brain changes that may influence food intake decisions. Brain regions implicated in reward develop earlier than those implicated in cognitive control. For this reason, children are vulnerable to making poor dietary decisions. Future studies could use neurophysiological indicators of overconsumption to develop individualized interventions to prevent obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPediatric Food Preferences and Eating Behaviors
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780128117163
ISBN (Print)9780128117170
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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