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Appetite. 2010 Dec;55(3):685-94. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.10.002. Epub 2010 Oct 12.

Information processing of food pictures in binge eating disorder.

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University of Freiburg, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Germany.


Previous research has yielded evidence of attentional biases for food-related cues in binge eating disorder (BED) using behavioural measures such as the Stroop and dot probe paradigm. Being a more direct measure of attentional processing, the present study used event related potentials (ERPs) to test reactivity to high caloric and low caloric food pictures in women with BED compared to overweight healthy female controls (HC). In order to detect a possible motivational ambivalence, self-report and psychophysiological measures of the sympathetic and parasympathetic response system were assessed additionally. The main results yielded evidence that in women with BED high caloric food pictures elicit larger long latency ERPs compared to HC. By contrast, no such group difference was found for low caloric food pictures. Peripheral measures did not yield any group differences with respect to the processing of the caloric value of food. The results suggest that for women with BED, high caloric food may have high motivational properties and consume large parts of attentional resources. In the context of an environment in which high caloric food is omnipresent, such an abnormal processing may be relevant for the maintenance of the disorder.

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