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Study finds link between child's obesity and cognitive function
Date:4/1/2014

slower to respond to stimuli when they were involved in this activity," Hillman said.

The researchers also found that healthy-weight children were better at evaluating their need to change their behavior in order to avoid future errors.

"The healthy-weight kids were more accurate following an error than the obese children were, and when the task required greater amounts of executive control, the difference was even greater," he reported.

A second evaluation measured electrical activity in the brain "that occurs at the intersection of thought and action," Hillman said. "We can measure what we call error-related negativity (ERN) in the electrical pattern that the brain generates following errors. When children made an error, we could see a larger negative response. And we found that healthy-weight children are better able to upregulate the neuroelectric processes that underlie error evaluation."

Scientists in the Hillman lab and elsewhere have seen a connection between healthy weight and academic achievement, "but a study like this helps us understand what's happening. There are certainly physiological differences in the brain activity of obese and healthy-weight children. It's exciting to be able to use functional brain imaging to see the way children's weight affects the aspects of cognition that influence and underlie achievement," said postdoctoral researcher and co-author Naiman Khan.


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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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