Selective attention research has shown that when perceptual demand is high, unattended sensory information is filtered out at early stages of processing. We investigated for the first time whether the sensory and nutrient cues associated with becoming full (satiety) would be filtered out in a similar manner. One-hundred and twenty participants consumed either a low-satiety (75 kcal) or high-satiety (272 kcal plus thicker texture) beverage, delivered via an intra-oral infusion device while participants simultaneously completed a task which was either low or high in perceptual demand. Among participants who performed the low perceptual load task, ingestion of the high-satiety beverage increased rated satiety and reduced consumption at a subsequent snack test. However, both effects were eliminated by the high perceptual load task. Therefore, the processing of satiety cues was dependent on the availability of attention, identifying a novel perceptual load mechanism of inattentive eating and supporting more recent cognitive models of appetite control.
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