SATO Wataru Laboratory

Homeostatic modulation on unconscious hedonic responses to food

(Sato, Sawada, Kubota, Toichi, & Fushiki: BMC Res Notes)

Hedonic/affective responses to food play a critical role in eating behavior.
Previous behavioral studies have shown that hedonic responses to food are elicited consciously and unconsciously.
Although the studies also showed that hunger and satiation have a modulatory effect on conscious hedonic responses to food, the effect of these homeostatic states on unconscious hedonic responses to food remains unknown.

We investigated unconscious hedonic responses to food in hungry and satiated participants using the subliminal affective priming paradigm.
Food images or corresponding mosaic images were presented in the left or right peripheral visual field during 33 ms.
Then photographs of target faces with emotionally neutral expressions were presented, and the participants evaluated their preference for the faces.
Additionally, daily eating behaviors were assessed using questionnaires.

Preference for the target faces was increased by food images relative to the mosaics in the hungry, but not the satiated, state.
The difference in preference ratings between the food and mosaic conditions was positively correlated with the tendency for external eating in the hungry, but not the satiated, group.

Our findings suggest that homeostatic states modulate unconscious hedonic responses to food and that this phenomenon is related to daily eating behaviors.

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