The purposes of the present study were to explore the neurophysiological mechanism of visuospatial attention deficits in the adults with obesity, and to examine the relationships between neurocognitive (neuropsychological and neurophysiological) performances and the biochemical markers. Thirty adults with obesity and 30 healthy-weight controls, categorized by body mass index and %fat as measured with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, completed a fasting blood draw and performed a visuospatial attention paradigm with concomitant electrophysiological recording. The obese group showed slower reaction times and smaller P3 amplitudes when performing the cognitive task. Even when controlling for the co-variable of cardiorespiratory fitness, the results still remained. In addition, the serum levels of insulin, glucose, leptin, and C-reactive protein (CRP) were significantly higher in the obese group relative to the control group, but not those of IL-6, IL-1ß, and TNF-α. Partial correlations adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness showed that leptin and CRP concentrations in the obese group were negatively associated with poorer neurophysiological (i.e. P3 amplitude) performance. However, the regression analysis showed that only leptin was the sole predictor of P3 amplitude in the obese group. These findings indicate that the individuals with obesity exhibited neurocognitive deficits when performing the visuospatial attention task, and serum leptin levels could be one of the influential factors.
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