Effect of obesity on inhibitory control in preadolescents during stop-signal task. An event-related potentials study

Int J Psychophysiol. 2021 Jul;165:56-67. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2021.04.003. Epub 2021 Apr 16.


Preadolescence is a period in which structural and functional changes occur in brain network reorganization that relate to the development of executive control functions, particularly in the areas of attention and cognitive inhibition. Obesity has been associated with a deficit in executive functions and behavioral and electrophysiological differences using the go/no-go task (proactive inhibition), but no study has assessed brain-electrical activity using the stop-signal task (reactive inhibition) in this population. Therefore, we hypothesized that obese preadolescents would show less efficiency in reactive inhibition than their same-age non-obese peers. To test this hypothesis, event-related potentials (ERPs) were collected during a stop-signal task and compared between 27 obese preadolescents (mean BMI = 25.9; 9.65 years old) and 29 normal-weight preadolescents (mean BMI = 17.5; 9.60 years old). No significant differences between groups were observed in behavioral responses. As for ERPs, the obese group had an electrophysiological pattern associated with less efficient conflict monitoring during the "no-go" condition (i.e., less modulation of N200 latency based on the experimental condition), differences in attentional allocation in the "go" condition (less modulation of P300a latency based on experimental condition), and difficulties in rule retrieval from working memory associated with the trial-type in both experimental conditions (smaller P300b amplitude). We conclude that obese preadolescents displayed less ability to modulate conflict-monitoring in the "no-go" condition and attention allocation in the "go" condition, evidencing differences between groups in the development of attention and inhibitory control.

Keywords: Attention process; N200; Obese preadolescents; P300a; P300b; Reactive inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Evoked Potentials*
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Obesity
  • Reaction Time