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Clin Psychol Rev. 2016 Nov;49:16-27. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2016.06.005. Epub 2016 Jul 21.

Training motor responses to food: A novel treatment for obesity targeting implicit processes.

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Oregon Research Institute, 1776 Millrace Drive, Eugene, OR 97403, USA. Electronic address:
School of Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QG, UK. Electronic address:
School of Psychology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia. Electronic address:
Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Electronic address:


The present review first summarizes results from prospective brain imaging studies focused on identifying neural vulnerability factors that predict excessive weight gain. Next, findings from cognitive psychology experiments evaluating various interventions involving food response inhibition training or food response facilitation training are reviewed that appear to target these neural vulnerability factors and that have produced encouraging weight loss effects. Findings from both of these reviewed research fields suggest that interventions that reduce reward and attention region responses to high calorie food cues and increase inhibitory region responses to high calorie food cues could prove useful in the treatment of obesity. Based on this review, a new conceptual model is presented to describe how different cognitive training procedures may contribute to modifying eating behavior and important directions for future research are offered. It is concluded that there is a need for evaluating the effectiveness of more intensive food response training interventions and testing whether adding such training to extant weight loss interventions increases their efficacy.


Attention; Attentional retraining; Food; Inhibition; Neural vulnerability factors; Obesity; Prospective brain imaging; Response training; Reward; Weight gain; Weight-loss treatment

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