SATO Wataru Laboratory

Facial EMG activity is associated with hedonic experiences but not nutritional values while viewing food images

(Sato, Yoshikawa, & Fushiki: Nutrients)

The physiological correlates of hedonic/emotional experiences to visual food stimuli are of theoretical and practical interest.
Previous psychophysiological studies have shown that facial electromyography (EMG) signals were related to subjective hedonic ratings in response to food images.
However, because other data showed positive correlations between hedonic ratings and objective nutritional values of food, whether the facial EMG reactions to food images could reflect the hedonic evaluation or nutritional assessment of food remains unknown.

To address this issue, we measured subjective hedonic ratings (liking, wanting, valence, and arousal) and physiological signals (facial EMG of the corrugator supercilii, zygomatic major, masseter, and suprahyoid muscles, skin potential responses, and heart rates) while participants observed food images that had objective nutritional information (calories and carbohydrate, fat, and protein contents).

The results revealed that zygomatic major EMG activity was positively correlated with ratings of liking, wanting, and valence, but not with any objective nutritional value.

These data indicate that facial EMG signals in response to food images reflect subjective hedonic experiences but not objective nutritional values associated with food item.

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