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Hemispheric asymmetries in resting-state EEG and fMRI are related to approach and avoidance behaviour, but not to eating behaviour or BMI

By Filip Morys, Lieneke Janssen, Elena Cesnaite, Frauke Beyer, Isabel Garcia-Garcia, Jana Kube, Deniz Kumral, Franziskus Liem, Nora Mehl, Keyvan Mahjoory, Anne Schrimpf, Michael Gaebler, Daniel Margulies, Arno Villringer, Jane Neumann, Vadim Nikulin, Annette Horstmann

Posted 04 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/692012 (published DOI: 10.1002/hbm.24864)

Much of our behaviour is driven by two motivational dimensions – approach and avoidance. These have been related to frontal hemispheric asymmetries in clinical and resting-state EEG studies: approach was linked to higher activity of the left relative to the right hemisphere, while avoidance was related to the opposite pattern. Increased approach behaviour, specifically towards unhealthy foods, is also observed in obesity and has been linked to asymmetry in the framework of the right-brain hypothesis of obesity. Here, we aimed to replicate previous EEG findings of hemispheric asymmetries for self-reported approach/avoidance behaviour and to relate them to eating behaviour. Further, we assessed whether resting fMRI hemispheric asymmetries can be detected and whether they are related to approach/avoidance, eating behaviour, and BMI. We analysed 3 samples: Sample 1 (n=117) containing EEG and fMRI data from lean participants, and Samples 2 (n=89) and 3 (n=152) containing fMRI data from lean, overweight, and obese participants. While in Sample 1 approach in women was related to EEG and fMRI hemispheric asymmetries, in Samples 2 and 3 this effect was not significant. Here, hemispheric asymmetries were neither related to BMI nor eating behaviour. Our study partly replicates previous EEG findings regarding hemispheric asymmetries and indicates that this relationship could also be captured using fMRI. Our findings suggest that eating behaviour and obesity are likely to be mediated by mechanisms not directly relating to frontal asymmetries in neuronal activation quantified with EEG and fMRI.

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