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Psychophysiology. 2019 Apr;56(4):e13309. doi: 10.1111/psyp.13309. Epub 2018 Dec 16.

The reality of "food porn": Larger brain responses to food-related cues than to erotic images predict cue-induced eating.

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Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Department of Teaching and Learning, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.
Department of Statistics, The University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California.
Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona, College of Medicine-Tucson, Tucson, Arizona.


While some individuals can defy the lure of temptation, many others find appetizing food irresistible. The goal of this study was to investigate the neuropsychological mechanisms that increase individuals' vulnerability to cue-induced eating. Using ERPs, a direct measure of brain activity, we showed that individuals with larger late positive potentials in response to food-related cues than to erotic images are more susceptible to cue-induced eating and, in the presence of a palatable food option, eat more than twice as much as individuals with the opposite brain reactivity profile. By highlighting the presence of individual brain reactivity profiles associated with susceptibility to cue-induced eating, these findings contribute to the understanding of the neurobiological basis of vulnerability to obesity.


ERPs; cue reactivity; endophenotypes; incentive salience; late positive potential (LPP); sign tracking

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