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Visual cues associated with sweet taste increase short-term eating and grab attention in healthy volunteers

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posted on 2023-06-10, 01:20 authored by Martin YeomansMartin Yeomans, Thomas Ridley-Siegert, Chi Thanh ViChi Thanh Vi, Hans CrombagHans Crombag
Most studies that examine responses to food cues use images of actual foods as stimuli. Since foods are rewarding in multiple ways, it then becomes difficult to try and partial out the role of the importance of different aspects of food reward. Here we aimed to evaluate the impact of novel visual cues specifically associated with the immediate sensory reward from a liked sweet taste. In the training phase, one visual cue (CSsweet) was associated with the experience of sweet taste (10%sucrose) and a second, control cue (CSneutral) with a neutral taste (artificial saliva) using a disguised training procedure. In Experiment 1, participants (n = 45) were given an ad libitum snack intake test 30 min post-training, either labelled with CSsweet or CSneutral. Total caloric consumption was significantly higher in the CSsweet (650 ± 47 kcal) than CSneutral (477 ± 45 kcal) condition, but ratings of liking for the snacks did not differ significantly between conditions. In Experiment 2, participants (n = 80) exhibited an overall attentional bias (22.1 ± 9.9 ms) for the CSsweet relative to CSneutral cue (assessed using a dot-probe task), however rated liking for the CSsweet did not change significantly after cue-sweet training. Likewise, measures of expected satiety for drinks labelled with CSsweet did not differ significantly from CSneutral. Overall these two experiments provide evidence that associations between neutral visual cues and the experience of a liked sweet taste leads to cue-potentiated eating in the presence of the CSsweet cue. With no evidence that cue-sweet training altered rated liking for the visual cues, and in keeping with extant literature on the dissociation of hedonic and rewarding properties of food rewards, we propose this potentiation effect to reflect increased incentive salience.


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Physiology and Behavior







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United States

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