Our research is designed to analyze the addiction model of obesity by tracking the disequilibrium between cognitive control and reward sensitivity responses by age, sex, and race to advance the understanding of our consummatory behaviors.
In our online survey, we test for healthy vs. non-healthy food choices. With the top quadrant focused on a can soda in its recognized packaging without advertising brand or label, we first identify the participant’s preference selection noting the strength of the response by offering three quadrants focused on canned vegetables. If a vegetable selection is chosen, we hypothesize that the participant has activated the inhibitory response in cognitive transactions.
In the next A/B test, we analyze breakfast choices in three quadrants loaded with a healthy serving of eggs cooked in a variety of ways and a doughnut as the single sugary food source. If the participant chooses the sugary substance over protein, we may uncover neurobehavioral vulnerability that likely underpins addiction to sugary food in those who are obese, encompassing reduced brain function in regions associated with homeostatic satiety and cognitive inhibition of appetite. (1)
By asking participants to focus on healthy vs. non-healthy foods in the A/B test, we look for quadrant bias, i.e. deciding if seeing the first quadrant loaded with the sugary food choice influences the cola choice with greater frequency than if the healthy food is placed in the first order during the test. Three valence ratings are taken during the test. The first is the subjective rating of mood. Our additional hypothesis states that the subjective emotional rating will influence the dominant preference choice. The second/third rating is a scale of 1-10 for a participant to rate how much the photo is liked. This hedonic valence score testing attraction vs. aversion will be used to analyze causal inferences of the data.
Our research goal is to produce a data report to develop and suggest cognitive reappraisal strategies for people to combat the obesity epidemic.
1. Increased Prefrontal and Parahippocampal Activation with Reduced Dorsolateral
Prefrontal and Insular Cortex Activation to Food Images in Obesity: A Meta-
Analysis of fMRI Studies
Brooks S.J., Cedernaes J., Schioth H.B.
(2013) PLoS ONE, 8 (4) , art. no. e60393