Neurobiology of the body-brain axis in modifying eating behaviour, cognition and addictive behaviours in obesity and addiction.


Our Group uses comprehensive phenotyping in humans including functional and structural neuroimaging, cognitive and psychological testing, assessment of gut and pituitary hormones, metabolism, appetite and eating behaviour, to examine body-brain interactions in the regulation of food hedonics, reward processing, addictive behaviours (such as impulsivity, compulsivity, stress sensitivity) and cognition, in obesity, addictive disorders (such as alcohol and nicotine dependence) and traumatic brain injury, and the influence of dietary, hormonal, pharmacological and bariatric surgical interventions, metabolic and inflammatory factors, and genetic variants.

Recent functional neuroimaging studies of eating behaviour have demonstrated that the stomach-derived gut hormone ghrelin mimics fasting to increase the appeal of and brain reward system responses to high-energy dense food cues; while patients after gastric bypass surgery have lower appeal of and brain responses to high-energy dense food cues than patients after gastric banding surgery and/or unoperated body mass index controls, perhaps related to the enhanced secretion of satiety gut hormones such as GLP-1 and PYY. Targeted nutritional supplements that increase satiety have also been shown to selectively reduce brain responses to high-energy dense food cues. 

Soldiers after blast-related traumatic brain injury were also found to have a higher prevalence of pituitary hormone dysfunction than patients after non-blast traumatic brain injury, that is associated with more severe white matter tract damage.

Current functional neuroimaging studies in the CIF are comparing standard medical management with bariatric surgery and insertion of the duodenal-jejunal endoluminal liner (Endobarrier) on eating and addictive behaviours in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus; and the influence of metabolic syndrome and pituitary hormones on brain recovery after traumatic brain injury.

Key publications

Researchers involved


  • Medical Research Council