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Physiol Behav. 2003 Feb;78(2):221-7.

Effects of deprivation on hedonics and reinforcing value of food.

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Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, G56 Farber Hall, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214-3000, USA.


Eating is influenced by both the hedonic preferences and reinforcing value of food. Incentive salience theory predicts these are separate influences. This study tested whether hedonics reliably change as a function of increasing the reinforcing value of food by deprivation in 17 non-obese, non-dietary restrained females. Baseline measures of hedonics for pleasant (chocolate milk), unpleasant (lemon juice) and neutral (water) tastes were determined under deprived conditions. Participants were then randomly assigned to fed or maintained in deprived conditions, and after food consumption, a second determination of hedonics was obtained, followed by assessing the reinforcing value of food. Hedonics was measured by subjective ratings and behavioral observations in a taste reactivity paradigm. Results showed food was more reinforcing for the deprived than the fed group, but no influences of group were observed for the subjective or objective hedonic measures. These results suggest that hedonics and the reinforcing value of food are separate processes in humans, and they may independently influence eating behavior.

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