HBD in the news
Paul Fussell observed back in the 1980s that proles are fat.
Now, reported at the Daily Mail, researchers have biological evidence of what might be the prole brain.
The research involved sophisticated brain images of 32 adults recruited from the city of Baltimore in Maryland, 16 men and 16 women. Anyone who had a history of brain damage, substance abuse or mental illness was excluded from the group.
Outlining the object of the study, the authors said: ‘It has been suggested that body composition itself might somehow affect the neural systems that underlie cognition, motivation, self-control and salience processing, which would in turn affect one’s ability to make better lifestyle choices, forgoing immediate and/or highly salient rewards for the sake of longer-term health and wellness goals’.
The researchers measured Body Mass Index, a commonly measure of how overweight a person is, and body fat percentages and compared them to differences in brain structure and function.
Lead researcher Chase Figley, an assistant professor in the department of radiology at the University of Manitoba, said that the brain scans were very thorough.
He said they covered changes across the whole brain but also ‘specific networks’.
In particular he was interested in the ‘salience network’, which he described as the ‘seat of motivation, willpower, and the ability to persevere through physical and emotional challenges’.
The results showed that there was ‘no significant difference’ in terms of white matter between people who had a normal weight and people who were fat.
Researchers said that their findings could explain why overweight people make poor diet choices – they do not have the mental capacity to control themselves
Researchers said that their findings could explain why overweight people make poor diet choices – they do not have the mental capacity to control themselves.
In a surprise twist, people with a higher BMI actually had slightly more grey matter overall.
However looking at specific networks on the brain a different picture began to emerge.
In particular, heavier and fatter people had less white matter in the salience network.
There were also differences in the dorsal striatum, an area of the brain involved with habitual behaviour.
Professor Figley told the National Post, a Canadian newspaper: ‘It stands to reason that these changes could further affect the ability of overweight individuals to exert self-control and maintain healthy lifestyle choices’.
He added that it was not clear if the brain differences predispose certain individuals to becoming fat, or vice versa.