Does my brain want what my eyes like? - How food liking and choice influence spatio-temporal brain dynamics of food viewing.


How food valuation and decision-making influence the perception of food is of major interest to better understand food intake behavior and, by extension, body weight management. Our study investigated behavioral responses and spatio-temporal brain dynamics by means of visual evoked potentials (VEPs) in twenty-two normal-weight participants when viewing pairs of food photographs. Participants rated how much they liked each food item (valuation) and subsequently chose between the two alternative food images. Unsurprisingly, strongly liked foods were also chosen most often. Foods were rated faster as strongly liked than as mildly liked or disliked irrespective of whether they were subsequently chosen over an alternative. Moreover, strongly liked foods were subsequently also chosen faster than the less liked alternatives. Response times during valuation and choice were positively correlated, but only when foods were liked; the faster participants rated foods as strongly liked, the faster they were in choosing the food item over an alternative. VEP modulations by the level of liking attributed as well as the subsequent choice were found as early as 135-180ms after food image onset. Analyses of neural source activity patterns over this time interval revealed an interaction between liking and the subsequent choice within the insula, dorsal frontal and superior parietal regions. The neural responses to food viewing were found to be modulated by the attributed level of liking only when foods were chosen, not when they were dismissed for an alternative. Therein, the responses to disliked foods were generally greater than those to foods that were liked more. Moreover, the responses to disliked but chosen foods were greater than responses to disliked foods which were subsequently dismissed for an alternative offer. Our findings show that the spatio-temporal brain dynamics to food viewing are immediately influenced both by how much foods are liked and by choices taken on them. These valuation and choice processes are subserved by brain regions involved in salience and reward attribution as well as in decision-making processes, which are likely to influence prospective dietary choices in everyday life.

DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.10.005

Cite this paper

@article{Bielser2016DoesMB, title={Does my brain want what my eyes like? - How food liking and choice influence spatio-temporal brain dynamics of food viewing.}, author={Marie-Laure Bielser and Camille Cr{\'e}z{\'e} and Micah M. Murray and Ulrike Toepel}, journal={Brain and cognition}, year={2016}, volume={110}, pages={64-73} }