Neural processing of visual food stimuli is perturbated at extremes of weight. Human fMRI studies investigating diet effects on neural processing of food cues could aid in understanding altered brain activation in conditions of under- and overnutrition. In this preliminary study, we examined brain activity changes in response to 10 days of high-calorie-diet (HCD), followed by 10 days of fasting, hypothesizing that HCD would decrease activation in homeostatic and reward regions, while fasting would increase activation in homeostatic/reward regions and decrease activation of self-control regions. Seven adults completed fMRI scanning during a food-cue paradigm (high- and low-calorie food images and nonfood objects), pre- and post-10-day HCD. Six adults completed fMRI scanning pre- and post-10-day fasting. BOLD response changes for contrasts of interest pre- versus post-intervention in regions of interest were examined (peak-level significance set at p(FWE)<0.05). BMI increased by 6.8% and decreased by 8.1% following HCD and fasting, respectively. Following HCD, BOLD response in the hypothalamus (homeostatic control), was attenuated at trend level in response to high- versus low-calorie foods. Following fasting, BOLD response to food versus objects in inhibitory-control areas (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) was reduced, whereas the activation of homeostatic (hypothalamus), gustatory, and reward brain areas (anterior insula and orbitofrontal cortex) increased. Overfeeding and fasting for 10 days modulate brain activity in response to food stimuli, suggesting that in healthy adults, changes in energy balance affect saliency and reward value of food cues. Future studies are required to understand this interaction in states of unhealthy weight.
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