The Sciences

NCBI ROFL: How scaring small children can help you lose weight.

DiscoblogBy ncbi roflSep 27, 2011 11:15 PM

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Fear signals inhibit impulsive behavior toward rewarding food objects. "We examined whether presentation of environmental cues that are associated with motor inhibition, i.e., fearful facial expressions, can be effective in controlling unintentionally evoked impulses toward rewarding food objects. Participants were presented with palatable foods or control objects. During presentation of the objects, facial expressions displaying fear, disgust, or neutral emotion were shortly presented. Results show that presentation of fearful facial expressions together with palatable foods slowed down subsequent responding to action probes, but only for participants who perceive palatable foods as highly rewarding and impulse-evoking, i.e., restrained eaters. Facial expressions of disgust did not show this effect. This finding suggests that unintentionally evoked motor impulses toward rewarding objects are inhibited upon presentation of a fear signal. The present research provides new insight on how emotional signals may be used to control impulsive responses toward palatable foods by the environment."

Photo: flickr/MatthewRad

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