Behavioral inhibition is one of the basic facets of executive functioning and is closely related to self-regulation. Impulsive reactions, that is, low inhibitory control, have been associated with higher body mass index (BMI), binge eating, and other problem behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, pathological gambling, etc.). Nevertheless, studies which investigated the direct influence of food-cues on behavioral inhibition have been fairly inconsistent. In the current studies, we investigated food-cueaffected behavioral inhibition in young women. For this purpose, we used a go/no-gotask with pictorial food and neutral stimuli in which stimulus-response mapping is reversed after every other block (affectiveshiftingtask).
In study 1, hungry participants showed faster reaction times to and omitted fewer food than neutral targets. Low dietingsuccess and higher BMI were associated with behavioral disinhibition in food relative to neutral blocks.
In study 2, both hungry and satiated individuals were investigated. Satiation did not influence overall task performance, but modulated associations of task performance with dietingsuccess and self-reported impulsivity. When satiated, increased food craving during the task was associated with low dietingsuccess, possibly indicating a preload-disinhibition effect following food intake. Food-cues elicited automatic action and approach tendencies regardless of dietingsuccess, self-reported impulsivity, or current hunger levels. Yet, associations between dietingsuccess, impulsivity, and behavioral food-cue responses were modulated by hunger and satiation.
Future research investigating clinical samples and including other salient non-food stimuli as control category is warranted.
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