Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-32823-x; PMCID: PMC10105706


We examined the neurocomputational mechanisms in which male adolescents make food and physical activity decisions and how those processes are influenced by body weight and physical activity levels. After physical activity and dietary assessments, thirty-eight males ages 14-18 completed the behavioral rating and fMRI decision tasks for food and physical activity items. The food and physical activity self-control decisions were significantly correlated with each other. In both, taste- or enjoyment-oriented processes were negatively associated with successful self-control decisions, while health-oriented processes were positively associated. The correlation between taste/enjoyment and healthy attribute ratings predicted actual laboratory food intake and physical activities (2-week activity monitoring). fMRI data showed the decision values of both food and activity are encoded in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, suggesting both decisions share common reward value-related circuits at the time of choice. Compared to the group with overweight/obese, the group with normal weight showed stronger brain activations in the cognitive control, multisensory integration, and motor control regions during physical activity decisions. For both food and physical activity, self-controlled decisions utilize similar computational and neurobiological mechanisms, which may provide insights into how to promote healthy food and physical activity decisions.

Journal Title

Sci Rep





First Page


Last Page


MeSH Keywords

Male; Humans; Adolescent; Food; Obesity; Overweight; Brain; Prefrontal Cortex; Exercise; Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Food; Obesity; Overweight; Brain; Prefrontal Cortex; Exercise; Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Grant support

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Publisher's link:

Included in

Pediatrics Commons