Visual food cues can influence your eating behavior even when you are not aware of them

summary: In the inferior frontal gyrus, brain activity in response to food stimuli such as images of food varies depending on whether these images are presented consciously or unconsciously.

Source: Osaka Metropolitan University

Controlling your eating can be more difficult than you think. Osaka Metropolitan University scientists show that visual food cues can influence your eating behavior even when you are not aware of them.

Their findings have been published in Plus one.

Obesity is a major comorbid condition that constitutes a lifestyle disease and is known to be associated with myocardial infarction, stroke and carcinogenesis.

Methods of regulating eating behavior are widely used in an effort to control obesity, but it has been reported that about half of those given dietary guidance return to their original weight within five years.

To explain the limited effectiveness of such guidance, one hypothesis proposes that the conscious neuronal processes, which food guidance targets, as well as the unconscious neuronal processes, play an important role in controlling eating behaviour. However, there have been no studies directly examining the validity of this hypothesis at the level of neural activity.

Methods of regulating eating behavior are widely used in an effort to control obesity, but it has been reported that about half of those given dietary guidance return to their original weight within five years. The image is in the public domain

The research team led by Professor Takahiro Yoshikawa of the Graduate School of Medicine at Osaka Metropolitan University revealed that in the inferior frontal gyrus, a region of the frontal lobe of the brain that controls eating behaviour, neural activity varies in response to visual food stimuli, or images of food, depending on whether These images were displayed consciously or unconsciously.

Using a questionnaire to assess study participants, the team found that this difference was related to their scores on eating behaviors, including emotional eating and cognitive limitations to eating. These results indicate that eating behavior cannot be understood without considering both unconscious and conscious neuronal processes.

“If we can learn more in future research about how eating behavior is controlled by unconscious neural processes, we can combine this understanding with our existing knowledge of conscious neural processes to develop more effective ways to regulate eating behaviour,” said Professor Yoshikawa.

About this behavioral and visual research news in neuroscience

author: press office
Source: Osaka Metropolitan University
Contact: Press Office – Osaka Metropolitan University
picture: The image is in the public domain

Original search: open access.
“Association between eating behavior and immediate neural activity induced by viewing food images presented both inside and outside consciousness: a magnetoencephalography study” by Rika Ishida et al. Plus one


Summary

Associations between eating behavior and immediate neural activity induced by viewing food images presented both in and out of consciousness: an electroencephalography study

See also

This indicates a brain

Obesity is a serious health problem in modern society. Given the fact that the outcomes of therapies targeting appetitive behavior are suboptimal, one possible reason proposed for these poor outcomes is that appetitive behavior is driven by more unconscious decision-making processes than the conscious ones targeted by conventional behavioral therapies.

In this study, we aimed to investigate both conscious and unconscious decision-making processes related to eating behavior, and to examine whether there is an interaction associated with eating behavior between conscious and unconscious neuronal processes.

The study was conducted on healthy male volunteers who viewed pictures of food and non-food items presented above and below the awareness threshold.

Oscillatory brain activity affected by viewing the images was assessed by magnetic EEG. An optical reverse masking procedure was used to present the images with awareness.

Neural activity corresponding to interactions between sessions (that is, food or non-food) and conditions (that is, visible or invisible) is observed in left Brodmann regions 45 and 47 in the higher gamma frequency range (60–200 Hz).

The interactions were associated with indicators of eating behavior such as emotional eating and cognitive self-control, suggesting that conscious and unconscious neuronal processes are differently involved in eating behaviour.

These findings provide valuable evidence for devising methods to assess conscious and unconscious appetite regulation in individuals with normal or abnormal eating behaviour.

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