Obesity Surgery

, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 2578–2582 | Cite as

Changes in Cerebral Cortical Thickness Related to Weight Loss Following Bariatric Surgery

  • Cara Bohon
  • Luis C. GarciaEmail author
  • John M. Morton
Brief Communication


Cerebral cortical thickness is associated with memory and intelligence test scores and serves as a measure for changes in cortical gray matter. Previous studies suggest reduced cortical thickness in patients with obesity. This study aimed to investigate changes in cortical thickness following bariatric surgery. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of five patients were analyzed preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively to assess changes in global measures of cortical thickness. No patients were lost to follow-up. This study provides preliminary evidence of brain change following surgery, suggests increases in cerebral cortical thickness in patients with greater excess weight loss, and indicates the need for further investigation using larger samples and correlation with neurocognitive measures, such as memory recall.


Bariatric surgery Obesity Weight loss Cortical thickness 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Approval for this study was provided by Stanford University’s Institutional Review Board, and participants completed written, informed consent.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Gunstad J, Paul RH, Cohen RA, et al. Relationship between body mass index and brain volume in healthy adults. Int J Neurosci. 2008;118(11):1582–93. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hawkins MAW, Alosco ML, Spitznagel MB, et al. The association between reduced inflammation and cognitive gains after bariatric surgery. Psychosom Med. 2015;77(6):688–96. Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stillman CM, Weinstein AM, Marsland AL, et al. Body-brain connections: the effects of obesity and behavioral interventions on neurocognitive aging. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017;9:115. eCollection 2017. ReviewCrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Spitznagel MB, Hawkins M, Alosco M, et al. Neurocognitive effects of obesity and bariatric surgery. Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2015;23(6):488–95. Review.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shalev D, Arbuckle MR. Metabolism and memory: obesity, diabetes, and dementia. Biol Psychiatry. 2017;82(11):e81–3. Scholar
  6. 6.
    Marqués-Iturria I, Pueyo R, Garolera M, et al. Frontal cortical thinning and subcortical volume reductions in early adulthood obesity. Psychiatry Res. 2013;214(2):109–15. Scholar
  7. 7.
    Veit R, Kullmann S, Heni M, et al. Reduced cortical thickness associated with visceral fat and BMI. Neuroimage Clin. 2014;6:307–11. eCollection 2014.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Thiara G, Cigliobianco M, Muravsky A, et al. Evidence for neurocognitive improvement after bariatric surgery: a systematic review. Psychosomatics. 2017;58(3):217–27. ReviewCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Pereira JB, Ibarretxe-Bilbao N, Marti MJ, et al. Assessment of cortical degeneration in patients with Parkinson's disease by voxel-based morphometry, cortical folding, and cortical thickness. Hum Brain Mapp. 2012;33(11):2521–34. Scholar
  10. 10.
    Narr KL, Woods RP, Thompson PM, et al. Relationships between IQ and regional cortical gray matter thickness in healthy adults. Cereb Cortex. 2007;17(9):2163–71.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Walhovd KB, Fjell AM, Dale AM, et al. Regional cortical thickness matters in recall after months more than minutes. NeuroImage. 2006;31(3):1343–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bernardoni F, King JA, Geisler D, et al. Weight restoration therapy rapidly reverses cortical thinning in anorexia nervosa: a longitudinal study. NeuroImage. 2016;130:214–22. Scholar
  13. 13.
    King JA, Geisler D, Ritschel F, et al. Global cortical thinning in acute anorexia nervosa normalizes following long-term weight restoration. Biol Psychiatry. 2015;77(7):624–32. Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fischl B. FreeSurfer. NeuroImage. 2012;62(2):774–81. Review.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Alosco ML, Spitznagel MB, Strain G, et al. Improved memory function two years after bariatric surgery. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(1):32–8. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fischl B, Dale AM. Measuring the thickness of the human cerebral cortex from magnetic resonance images. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000;97(20):11050–5.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medicine, Section of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive SurgeryStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations