To elucidate the mechanisms of how snack foods may induce non-homeostatic food intake, we used resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), as resting state networks can individually adapt to experience after short time exposures. In addition, we used graph theoretical analysis together with machine learning techniques (support vector machine) to identifying biomarkers that can categorize between high-caloric (potato chips) vs. low-caloric (zucchini) food stimulation.
Seventeen healthy human subjects with body mass index (BMI) 19 to 27 underwent 2 different fMRI sessions where an initial resting state scan was acquired, followed by visual presentation of different images of potato chips and zucchini. There was then a 5-minute pause to ingest food (day 1=potato chips, day 3=zucchini), followed by a second resting state scan. fMRI data were further analyzed using graph theory analysis and support vector machine techniques.
Potato chips vs. zucchini stimulation led to significant connectivity changes. The support vector machine was able to accurately categorize the 2 types of food stimuli with 100% accuracy. Visual, auditory, and somatosensory structures, as well as thalamus, insula, and basal ganglia were found to be important for food classification. After potato chips consumption, the BMI was associated with the path length and degree in nucleus accumbens, middle temporal gyrus, and thalamus.
The results suggest that high vs. low caloric food stimulation in healthy individuals can induce significant changes in resting state networks. These changes can be detected using graph theory measures in conjunction with support vector machine. Additionally, we found that the BMI affects the response of the nucleus accumbens when high caloric food is consumed.