Few studies have investigated the underlying neural substrates of food addiction (FA) in humans using a recognised assessment tool. In addition, no studies have investigated subregions of the amygdala (basolateral (BLA) and central amygdala), which have been linked to reward-seeking behaviours, susceptibility to weight gain, and promoting appetitive behaviours, in the context of FA. This pilot study aimed to explore the association between FA symptoms and activation in the BLA and central amygdala via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in response to visual food cues in fasted and fed states. Females (n
= 12) aged 18–35 years completed two fMRI scans (fasted and fed) while viewing high-calorie food images and low-calorie food images. Food addiction symptoms were assessed using the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Associations between FA symptoms and activation of the BLA and central amygdala were tested using bilateral masks and small-volume correction procedures in multiple regression models, controlling for BMI. Participants were 24.1 ± 2.6 years, with mean BMI of 27.4 ± 5.0 kg/m2
and FA symptom score of 4.1 ± 2.2. A significant positive association was identified between FA symptoms and higher activation of the left BLA to high-calorie versus low-calorie foods in the fasted session, but not the fed session. There were no significant associations with the central amygdala in either session. This exploratory study provides pilot data to inform future studies investigating the neural mechanisms underlying FA.
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