Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019
8:00pm to 9:00pm EST
Topic: The brain and obesity: What can we learn from neuroscience to help treat and prevent obesity
Presenter: Cassandra Lowe
Despite ongoing efforts, the obesity pandemic still remains a significant challenge for researchers, clinicians, and policy makers. While obesity is a complex disease, sustained overconsumption of hyperpalatable calorie-dense foods is thought to be the primary factor underlying the development of obesity. In this talk, I will outline how individual differences in brain function, particularly within the prefrontal cortex, can increase individual susceptibility to diet-induced obesity. Specifically, I will present evidence demonstrating how variations in activity within this brain region can increase the likelihood of overconsumption, especially in facilitating environments. Further, I will discuss how we can leverage these findings to develop “brain-based” preventative and treatment options, such as aerobic exercise and mindfulness-based strategies. Such “brain-based” interventions may be key to reducing obesity prevalence world-wide.
Dr. Lowe is currently a BrainsCAN Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Psychology, Brain and Mind Institute at Western University, London Ontario. She received her PhD in Public Health and Health Systems from the University of Waterloo in 2017. Dr. Lowe’s research uses a combination of neuroimaging (EEG and fMRI), neuromodulation, and exercise methods to (1) assess the neurocognitive mechanism underlying obesogenic eating patterns, and (2) can we target these mechanisms to improve dietary choices. Together, this line of work has provided important insight into the extent to which consumptive behaviours are regulated by the prefrontal regions of the brain.