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Attention bias for chocolate increases chocolate consumption: an attention bias modification study

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Abstract

Objective: The current study examined experimentally whether a manipulated attention bias for food cues increases craving, chocolate intake and motivation to search for hidden chocolates. Method: To test the effect of attention for food on subsequent chocolate intake, attention for chocolate was experimentally modified by instructing participants to look at chocolate stimuli ("attend chocolate" group) or at non-food stimuli ("attend shoes" group) during a novel attention bias modification task (antisaccade task). Chocolate consumption, changes in craving and search time for hidden chocolates were assessed. Eye-movement recordings were used to monitor the accuracy during the experimental attention modification task as possible moderator of effects. Regression analyses were conducted to test the effect of attention modification and modification accuracy on chocolate intake, craving and motivation to search for hidden chocolates. Results: Results showed that participants with higher accuracy (+1 SD), ate more chocolate when they had to attend to chocolate and ate less chocolate when they had to attend to non-food stimuli. In contrast, for participants with lower accuracy (-1 SD), the results were exactly reversed. No effects of the experimental attention modification on craving or search time for hidden chocolates were found. Limitation: We used chocolate as food stimuli so it remains unclear how our findings generalize to other types of food. Conclusion: These findings demonstrate further evidence for a link between attention for food and food intake, and provide an indication about the direction of this relationship. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-143
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014