AUTHORS: Lietti CV, Murray MM, Hudry J, le Coutre J, Toepel U

Appetite, 58(1): 11-18, February 2012


The repeated presentation of simple objects as well as biologically salient objects can cause the adaptation of behavioral and neural responses during the visual categorization of these objects. Mechanisms of response adaptation during repeated food viewing are of particular interest for better understanding food intake beyond energetic needs. Here, we measured visual evoked potentials (VEPs) and conducted neural source estimations to initial and repeated presentations of high-energy and low-energy foods as well as non-food images. The results of our study show that the behavioral and neural responses to food and food-related objects are not uniformly affected by repetition. While the repetition of images displaying low-energy foods and non-food modulated VEPs as well as their underlying neural sources and increased behavioral categorization accuracy, the responses to high-energy images remained largely invariant between initial and repeated encounters. Brain mechanisms when viewing images of high-energy foods thus appear less susceptible to repetition effects than responses to low-energy and non-food images. This finding is likely related to the superior reward value of high-energy foods and might be one reason why in particular high-energetic foods are indulged although potentially leading to detrimental health consequences.

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