Resting-State Functional Connectivity Differences in College Students with and without Food Insecurity

Nutrients. 2022 May 14;14(10):2064. doi: 10.3390/nu14102064.


We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate cross-sectional differences in functional connectivity across cognitive networks at rest among age and sex matched college students with very low food security [food insecurity (FI); n = 20] and with high food security (n = 20). The participants completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-2 (BRIEF-2) and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaires. Seven-minute resting-state fMRI scans were collected. Independent Component Analysis assessed group connectivity differences in three large-scale networks: the default-mode network (DMN), the frontoparietal network (FPN), and the salience network (SN). FI was associated with poorer Global BRIEF scores (adjusted β = 8.36; 95% CI: 2.32, 14.40) and five BRIEF subscales: Inhibit, Initiate, Working Memory, Plan, and Organize (p-values < 0.05). The students with FI had greater functional connectivity between the FPN and left middle temporal gyrus (cluster size p-FWE = 0.029), the SN and precuneus (cluster size p-FWE < 0.001), and the SN and right middle frontal gyrus (cluster size p-FWE = 0.016) compared to the students with high food security. Exploratory correlations revealed that greater connectivity between the SN and right middle frontal gyrus was associated with poorer BRIEF Inhibit scores (p = 0.038), and greater connectivity between the FPN and left middle temporal gyrus was associated with poorer BRIEF Organize scores (p = 0.024) for the students with FI. Greater functional connectivity between the FPN, DMN, and SN at rest may contribute to executive function difficulties for college students with FI.

Keywords: cognitive function; college students; default-mode network; executive function; fMRI; food insecurity; frontoparietal network; functional connectivity; resting-state; salience network.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Food Insecurity
  • Humans
  • Students