Eating to dare - Nutrition impacts human risky decision and related brain function

Lu Liu*, Sergio Oroz Artigas, Anja Ulrich, Jeremy Tardu, Peter N.C. Mohr, Britta Wilms, Berthold Koletzko, Sebastian M. Schmid, Soyoung Q. Park

*Corresponding author for this work


Macronutrient composition modulates plasma amino acids that are precursors of neurotransmitters and can impact brain function and decisions. Neurotransmitter serotonin has been shown to regulate not only food intake, but also economic decisions. We investigated whether an acute nutrition-manipulation inducing plasma tryptophan fluctuation affects brain function, thereby affecting risky decisions. Breakfasts differing in carbohydrate/protein ratios were offered to test changes in risky decision-making while metabolic and neural dynamics were tracked. We identified that a high-carbohydrate/protein breakfast increased plasma tryptophan/LNAA (large neutral amino acids) ratio which mapped to individual risk propensity changes. The nutrition-manipulation and tryptophan/LNAA fluctuation effects on risk propensity changes were further modulated by individual differences in body fat mass. Using fMRI, we further identified activation in the parietal lobule during risk-processing, of which activities 1) were sensitive to the tryptophan/LNAA fluctuation, 2) were modulated by individual's body fat mass, and 3) predicted the risk propensity changes in decision-making. Our results provide evidence for a personalized nutrition-driven modulation on human risky decision and its metabolic and neural mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117951
Pages (from-to)117951
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 06.2021


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