University of South Australia: Brains of Obese People Struggle to Adapt and Learn New Things

Obesity has become one of the most damaging health problems in the world. It has become so prevalent that it has been considered an epidemic. Nearly every year, many people die due to complications, and comorbidities resulting from obesity.Brain

According to the WHO, more than 500 million people are suffering from it, which does not only cause physiological problems but also a financial strain on healthcare services. Moreover, obesity does not come without its bucket of related health issues such as diabetes, strokes, hypertension, and heart failure. Strokes have become a very common cause of death and also a leading cause of disability. To further understand this, a research study investigated whether obesity has a role in the impairment of certain brain networks and functions.

Read Also: UC San Diego: Adult Brain Cells Revert to Younger State Following Injury, Study Shows

Current research

For this study, the researchers evaluated the brain activity following a transcranial magnetic stimulation experiment, in which a group of 15 obese people aged 18 to 60 participated along with another group of 15 healthy people (control group).

During the experiment, the participants were given an electrical stimulation to their brain to calculate and examine the intensity of their brain response. As per results, the brain of healthy people responded positively and intensively reacted, all signaling the traits of good plasticity. On the other hand, brain cells of obese people didn’t respond well, signifying impaired capability to adapt or change over stimuli in other words they showed poor plasticity.

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According to the University of South Australia (UniSA) researcher Dr. Brenton Hordacre, it was the first physiological evidence bridging a link between extreme weight gain and reduced brain plasticity. He further mentioned that morbid obesity itself is a root cause of many life-threatening diseases including cardiovascular disorders, metabolic pathologies, and dementia.

This was the first-ever research conducted to reveal that excess body weight harms the brain in a way that it could strive to re-wire and find new neural pathways. This discovery, in the field of medicine, has made significant implications for the patients healing from strokes or any other brain injury. In short, obesity adversely affects brain functionality, in other words, it halts the brain’s ability to adapt, heal, learn, and build new memories.

Future direction for further research

This study would create a bridge for further studies investigating other morbidities related to obesity, causing impaired brain response, such as diabetes and sleep apnea.

Read Also: A Treatment That Reverses Aging Of The Brain May Soon Be Possible


Obesity is Associated with Reduced Plasticity of the Human Motor Cortex

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