Food-related neural circuitry in Prader-Willi syndrome: response to high- versus low-calorie foods

J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Oct;38(9):1642-53. doi: 10.1007/s10803-008-0546-x. Epub 2008 Feb 29.


Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hyperphagia and food preoccupations. Although dysfunction of the hypothalamus likely has a critical role in hyperphagia, it is only one of several regions involved in the regulation of eating. The purpose of this research was to examine food-related neural circuitry using functional magnetic resonance imaging in individuals with PWS and matched controls. Individuals with PWS showed increased activation in neural circuitry known to mediate hunger and motivation (hypothalamus, OFC) in response to high- versus low-calorie foods and in comparison to controls. This suggests neural circuitry for PWS is abnormally activated during hunger, particularly for high-calorie foods, and may mediate abnormally strong hunger states, therefore playing a significant role in PWS-induced hyperphagia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Energy Intake*
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology
  • Karyotyping
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology