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Can an fMRI scan be able to predict how successful you'll be in the sack? And just how much weight gain you can be expecting in the years to come? A team of researchers has used date from fMRI scans to successfully do just that.

The team of scientists from Dartmouth have been studying a region of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, a part people often refer to as the "reward center". Researchers rounded up a group of first year university students and scanned their brains while showing them neutral images, such as environmental scenes. Then they showed them pictures of appetizing food or erotic photographs.

Researchers waited six months after the scans before asking each participant to fill in a questionnaire. They found that those whose reward centers responded strongly to pictures of food had gained significantly more weight than the others. And those whose brains responded most to erotic images had gone on to be more sexually active. The research will appear in The Journal of Neuroscience.

But of course, this doesn't mean that everyone's future can be predicted just by scanning. Even though researchers can predict weight gain or sexual activity, you can control your urges too. William Kelley, one of the researchers, agrees:

"We seek to understand situations in which people face temptations and try to not act on them... You need to actively be thinking about the behavior you want to control in order to regulate it. Self-regulation requires a lot of conscious effort."

[The Journal of Neuroscience via EurekAlert]