Neural Correlates of Attentional Bias to Food Stimuli in Obese Adolescents
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Adolescent obesity is an increasingly prevalent problem in several societies. Researchers have begun to focus on neurocognitive processes that may help explain how unhealthy food habits form and are maintained. The present study compared attentional bias to food stimuli in a sample of obese (n = 22) and Normal-weight (n = 18) adolescents utilizing an Attention Blink (AB) paradigm while electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded. We found lower accuracy and Event-Related Potential (ERP) P3 amplitudes during the presentation of food stimuli in AB trials for obese adolescents. These findings suggest an impaired ability of their brains to flexibly relocate attentional resources in the face of food stimuli. The results were corroborated by lower P3s also being associated with higher body mass index (BMI) values and poorer self-reported self-efficacy in controlling food intake. The study is among the few examining neural correlates of attentional control in obese adolescents and suggests automatic attentional bias to food is an important aspect to consider in tackling the obesity crisis.
author list (cited authors)
Woltering, S., Chen, S., & Jia, Y.