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You are what you eat: a neuroscience perspective on consumers’ personality characteristics as determinants of eating behavior


Van der Laan, L.N., Smeets, P.A.M. Current Opinion in Food Science 2015 Vol 3: 11-18

Evidence for a link between personality characteristics and eating behavior is mounting. However, the underlying neurobiological mechanisms remain unclear. In this review and meta-analysis we summarize the current knowledge on personality characteristics in relation to food-induced brain responses and suggest topics for future research. Overall, the number of studies is low and there is significant variability in findings: the variability in findings related to single personality characteristics was of similar magnitude as that between different personality characteristics. Nevertheless, many food-specific personality characteristics are interrelated and modulate food-induced brain responses in similar brain areas as more general personality characteristics do. To advance the field and improve consumer profiling, standardized measures of food-related brain responses and personality characteristics are required.

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Gut instinct: body weight homeostasis in health and obesity.

Gareth Leng. Exp Physiol. 2014 Sep 1;99(9):1101-3.

Prof Gareth Leng (University of Edinburgh) recently published an article outlining current controversies and approaches in obesity research. This commentary introduces a special issue of Experimental Physiology marking the Physiological Society’s recent scientific meeting on obesity that featured work from Nudge-it scientists.       read the full article




Magnetoencephalographic Signatures of Right Prefrontal Cortex Involvement in Response Inhibition

Maike A. Hege, Hubert Preissl and Krunoslav T. Stingl.   Human Brain Mapping  Vol 35:Issue 9

Prevention and reversion of weight gain requires strong control of food intake. Particularly important in inhibiting the impulse to consume additional, unnecessary calories might be the cognitive control process of response inhibition as it allows us to inhibit actions, thoughts, and impulses that are inappropriate in a given context. Response inhibition of motor actions can be investigated in go-nogo tasks, in which subjects are required to perform speeded responses on go trials and to withhold responses on nogo trials. In our study, the role of prefrontal brain networks during response inhibition to food and toy pictures was investigated. In particular, we used magnetoencephalography to explore the temporal dynamics and neurophysiological nature of the activity in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC). It was shown that rDLPFC showed increased activity during response inhibition and that the temporal dynamics of this activity supported a role of rDLPFC in guiding the selection of inhibiting the response. Further results suggested that right prefrontal alpha band activity might be involved in this gating. With regard to the control of food intake, this prefrontal activity might be essential when selecting not to eat more or certain kinds of high caloric palatable food. In an additional study we already observed reduced activity in prefrontal brain areas during response inhibition to food pictures for obese subjects with binge eating disorder in comparison to obese subjects without binge eating disorder (Hege et al. 2014, Int J Obes). This observation might explain the inability of binge eating disorder patients to control their temporary excessive food intake.   read the full article

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