Weight loss reduces head motion: re-visiting a major confound in neuroimaging
Frauke Beyer, Kristin Prehn, Katharina A Wüsten, Arno Villringer, Jürgen Ordemann, Agnes Flöel, A Veronica Witte
Head motion during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) induces image artifacts that affect virtually every brain measure. In parallel, cross‐sectional observations indicate a correlation of head motion with age, psychiatric disease status and obesity, raising the possibility of a systematic artifact‐induced bias in neuroimaging outcomes in these conditions, due to the differences in head motion. Yet, a causal link between obesity and head motion has not been tested in an experimental design. Here, we show that a change in body mass index (BMI) (i.e., weight loss after bariatric surgery) systematically decreases head motion during MRI. In this setting, reduced imaging artifacts due to lower head motion might result in biased estimates of neural differences induced by changes in BMI. Overall, our finding urges the need to rigorously control for head motion during MRI to enable valid results of neuroimaging outcomes in populations that differ in head motion due to obesity or other conditions.