Neural Predictors of Receptivity to Health Communication and Behavior Change [National Cancer Institute]

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Date Span: 
12 Sep 2013 to 31 Jul 2017
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Individuals who are overweight or obese, and especially those who are sedentary, are at increased risk for cancer, have higher rates of morbidity and mortality overall, and these factors are substantial drivers of U.S. healthcare costs; physical activity mitigates these risks. Our core hypothesis is that the balance of neural activity in regions associated with self-related processing versus defensive counterarguing is key in producing behavior change, and that self-affirmation (an innovative approach, relatively new to the health behavior area can alter this balance. Successful achievement of our aims will elucidate cognitive and affective mechanisms that prevent people from altering behaviors known to increase the risk of cancers (e.g. sedentary behavior), improve our ability to predict health behavior change, and hence improve our capacity to design and select interventions that successfully alter such behaviors.