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Open AccessArticle

Neuropsychological and Neurophysiological Indicators of General and Food-Specific Impulsivity in Children with Overweight and Obesity: A Pilot Study

Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology and Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Leipzig University Medical Center, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Haptic-Research Laboratory, Paul-Flechsig-Institute for Brain Research, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Nutrients 2018, 10(12), 1983;
Received: 6 November 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 December 2018 / Published: 15 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eating Disorders and Obesity: The Challenge for Our Times)
Impulsivity, particularly towards food, is a potential risk factor for increased energy intake and the development and maintenance of obesity in children. However, neuropsychological and neurophysiological indicators of general and food-specific impulsivity and their association with children’s weight status are poorly understood. This pilot study examined electroencephalography (EEG) frequency band profiles during eyes-closed and eyes-open resting state in n = 12 children with overweight or obesity versus n = 22 normal-weight controls and their link to child- and parent-reported and experimentally assessed impulsivity of children (e.g., risk-taking behavior, approach-avoidance behavior towards food). The main results indicated that children with overweight/obesity versus normal weight showed significantly increased delta and decreased alpha band activity during eyes-closed resting state. Across the total sample, EEG slow-wave band activity was particularly linked to self- and parent-reported impulsivity and greater risk-taking behavior, but not to approach behavior towards food, after controlling for children’s age and weight status. The identification of specific EEG patterns in children with excess weight may provide a new basis for developing neurophysiological diagnostic and treatment approaches for childhood obesity. Future studies with larger samples and longitudinal designs are needed to replicate the present findings and test their stability over time. View Full-Text
Keywords: EEG; frequency bands; obesity; brain activity; impulsivity; children EEG; frequency bands; obesity; brain activity; impulsivity; children
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Schmidt, R.; Sebert, C.; Kösling, C.; Grunwald, M.; Hilbert, A.; Hübner, C.; Schäfer, L. Neuropsychological and Neurophysiological Indicators of General and Food-Specific Impulsivity in Children with Overweight and Obesity: A Pilot Study. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1983.

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