Overweight is associated with lower resting state functional connectivity in females after eliminating genetic effects: A twin study

Stieneke Doornweerd*, Eelco van Duinkerken, Eco J. de Geus, Parniane Arbab-Zadeh, Dick J. Veltman, Richard G. Ijzerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Obesity is related to altered functional connectivity of resting state brain networks that are involved in reward and motivation. It is unknown to what extent these associations reflect genetic confounding and whether the obesity-related connectivity changes are associated with differences in dietary intake. In this study, resting state functional MRI was performed after an overnight fast in 16 female monozygotic twin pairs (aged 48.8 ± 9.8 years) with a mean BMI discordance of 3.96 ± 2.1 kg/m2 (range 0.7–8.2). Functional connectivity of the salience, basal ganglia, default mode and anterior cingulate–orbitofrontal cortex networks was examined by independent component analysis. Dietary intake was assessed using 3-day 24-hour recalls. Results revealed that within the basal ganglia network, heavier versus leaner co-twins have decreased functional connectivity strength in bilateral putamen (P < 0.05, FWE-corrected). There were no differences in connectivity in the other networks examined. In the overall group, lower functional connectivity strength in the left putamen was correlated with higher intake of total fat (P < 0.01). It was concluded that, after eliminating genetic effects, overweight is associated with lower resting state functional connectivity in bilateral putamen in the basal ganglia network. The association between lower putamen connectivity and higher fat intake suggests an important role of the putamen in appetitive mechanisms. The cross-sectional nature of our study cannot discriminate cause and consequence, but the findings are compatible with an effect of lower putamen connectivity on increased BMI and associated higher fat intake. Hum Brain Mapp 38:5069–5081, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5069-5081
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

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