The main objective of this study was to investigate, by means of event-related potentials (ERPs), whether obese individuals process food-related information differently as compared to normal-weight individuals. Because amplitudes of late positive ERP components (P3, LPP) reflect motivational tendencies, obese participants were expected to display enlarged P3 and LPP amplitudes towards food pictures. Obese and normal-weight adults were exposed to pictures of food and control items, while EEG was recorded. Subjective levels of food craving and hunger were also assessed. While there were no differences in ERP amplitudes between obese and normal-weight individuals, significantly larger P3 and LPP amplitudes were elicited by pictures of food items as compared to control pictures. Positive correlations were found between P3 and LPP amplitudes and self-reported increases of hunger. It was concluded that food-related information is processed differently in the brain as compared to non-food-related information, in a manner that reflects the natural motivational value of food. In the present study, there was no indication of an electrophysiological or subjective hyper-reactivity to food cues in obese adults.

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Eating Behaviors
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Nijs, I., Franken, I., & Muris, P. (2008). Food cue-elicited brain potentials in obese and healthy-weight individuals. Eating Behaviors, 9(4), 462–470. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2008.07.009