Functional neuroimaging of gastric distention

Elke Stephan, José V. Pardo, Patricia L. Faris, Boyd K. Hartman, Suck W. Kim, Emil H. Ivanov, Randy S. Daughters, Patricia A. Costello, Robert L. Goodale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


This study aimed to measure brain activation during gastric distention as a way to investigate short-term satiety. We estimated regional cerebral blood flow with positron emission tomography (15O-water) during gastric balloon inflation and deflation in 18 healthy young women. The contrast between inflated minus deflated conditions showed activation in the following four key regions that were identified a priori: dorsal brain stem; left inferior frontal gyrus; bilateral insula; and right subgenual, anterior cingulate cortex. Extant neuroimaging literature provides context for these areas as follows: the brain stem represents vagal projection zones for visceral afferent processing; the inferior frontal gyrus serves as a convergence zone for processing food-related stimuli; and both the insula and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex respond to emotional stimulation. The identification of neural correlates of gastric distention is a key step in the discovery of new treatments for obesity. New therapies could intervene by modifying the perception of gastric distention, an important contributor to meal termination and short-term satiety. This first study of brain activation during nonpainful, proximal gastric distention provides the groundwork for future research to discover novel treatments for obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-749
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the Mark A. Nugent Foundation, NIDDK (5P30 DK50456-08) and ORWH (R01-DK52291), NARSAD, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.


  • Claustrum
  • Gastric distention
  • Insula
  • Obesity
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Satiety
  • Vagus nerve


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