Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Physiol Behav. 2018 Aug 1;192:50-58. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.03.031. Epub 2018 Mar 30.

Retraining automatic action tendencies in obesity.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstr. 1a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; MaxNetAging Research School, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Konrad-Zuse-Str. 1, 18057 Rostock, Germany. Electronic address: mehl@cbs.mpg.de.
2
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstr. 1a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
3
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstr. 1a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; IFB AdiposityDiseases, Leipzig University Medical Center, Philipp-Rosenthal-Str. 27, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; Department of Psychology, Biological Psychology, University of Cologne, Bernhard-Feilchenfeld-Str. 11, 50969 Cologne, Germany.
4
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstr. 1a, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; IFB AdiposityDiseases, Leipzig University Medical Center, Philipp-Rosenthal-Str. 27, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; Leipzig University Medical Center, CRC 1052A5 'Obesity Mechanisms', Liebigstr. 18, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Abstract

Eating behavior in obesity resembles addictive disorders in that individuals have difficulties inhibiting problematic eating behavior. They show an approach bias - a tendency to approach rather than avoid problematic stimuli. Here, we investigate the existence of such a bias towards healthy and unhealthy food in individuals with normal-weight and obesity. We further aimed to assess whether it is possible to retrain a bias, and whether training would differentially affect our two weight groups. 60 participants completed a training form of the Approach-Avoidance Task (AAT) on three consecutive days. Using a joystick, they were implicitly trained to approach healthy and to avoid unhealthy food pictures. Prior to training, individuals with obesity showed stronger approach tendencies towards food pictures than normal-weight individuals. In individuals with obesity, approach tendencies could be diminished for unhealthy food through one training session and stayed weakened for the following days. In normal-weight participants, approach tendencies towards healthy food could be enhanced over the days of training. Findings indicate that automatic approach tendencies can be changed through training, thus offering possibilities for obesity treatment. Future studies should expand on these findings, for example by including pictures of neutral objects or a no-training control condition.

KEYWORDS:

Approach bias; Approach-avoidance task; Cognitive bias modification; Eating behavior; Obesity

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center