Brain Imaging of Taste Perception in Obesity: a Review (2019)

Curr Nutr Rep. 2019 Apr 4. doi: 10.1007/s13668-019-0269-y.

Kure Liu C1, Joseph PV2, Feldman DE1, Kroll DS1, Burns JA1, Manza P1, Volkow ND1,3, Wang GJ4.



We summarize neuroimaging findings related to processing of taste (fat, salt, umami, bitter, and sour) in the brain and how they influence hedonic responses and eating behaviors and their role in obesity.


Neuroimaging studies in obese individuals have revealed alterations in reward/motivation, executive control/self-regulation, and limbic/affective circuits that are implicated in food and drug addiction. Psychophysical studies show that sensory properties of food ingredients may be associated with anthropometric and neurocognitive outcomes in obesity. However, few studies have examined the neural correlates of taste and processing of calories and nutrient content in obesity. The literature of neural correlated of bitter, sour, and salty tastes remains sparse in obesity. Most published studies have focused on sweet, followed by fat and umami taste. Studies on calorie processing and its conditioning by preceding taste sensations have started to delineate a dynamic pattern of brain activation associated with appetition. Our expanded understanding of taste processing in the brain from neuroimaging studies is poised to reveal novel prevention and treatment targets to help address overeating and obesity.

KEYWORDS: Eating; Gustation; Neuroimaging; Nutrition; Obesity; Taste

PMID: 30945140

DOI: 10.1007/s13668-019-0269-y