Todd Heatherton

State-of-the-Art fMRI scanner arrives in Moore Hall

Researchers in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences have had research-dedicated access to an fMRI scanner at the Dartmouth Brain Imaging Center in Moore Hall since 1999. This past summer, we bid farewell to our old Philips scanner, and installed a brand-new Siemens Prisma 3T MRI scanner, which will allow us to stay on the cutting edge of research. 

Todd Heatherton, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Human Relations and Director of the Center for Social Brain Sciences, has used fMRI methods that have allowed researchers to identify an area of the brain associated with knowledge about the self.

"One of the most cited papers in cognitive neuroscience was our study showing the medial prefrontal cortex is involved in self-reflection," says Heatherton. "It has been cited more than 1,300 times".

See the full article here.

How Junk Food Commercials Seduce The Brain And Aggravate Obesity (Forbes)

Forbes features a new study by Dartmouth's Kristina Rapuano, Jeremy Huckins, James Sargent, Todd Heatherton, and Bill Kelley which suggests a link between fast food advertisement exposure and obesity.

Adolescents were placed in the fMRI scanner and watched "The Big Bang Theory", interspersed with food and non-related commercials. According to Forbes, "During the food ads only, the kids reacted roughly as if food had been placed in front of them: brain structures associated with attention and evaluation, and with craving, pleasure, and gratification, all responded strongly".

Todd Heatherton is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Human Relations, Kristina Rapuano is a graduate student, Jeremy Huckins is a postdoctoral fellow, and Bill Kelley is a professor, all in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. James Sargent is professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine.

The Part of Your Brain That Made You Eat That Doughnut (TIME Magazine)

TIME features a new study by Dartmouth’s Todd Heatherton and Richard Lopez that focuses on the constant push and pull between two regions of the brain and how that battle impacts a person’s self control and will power.

“The problem, it turns out, is not with your brain as a whole, but with a battle for dominance between two parts of it: the nucleus accumbens (where the good times roll) and the inferior frontal gyrus (where the bouncer lives),” the article notes.

According to TIME, the researchers found that, “Overall, the people who had had the greatest reaction in the nucleus accumbens indulged significantly more than the people whose inferior frontal gyrus did a better job of maintaining control.”

Heatherton is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Human Relations and Lopez is a graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Read the full story here, published 5/1/14 by TIME.