Reward sensitivity and self-control in uncontrolled eating: analysis of EEG beta and theta dynamics
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The present study investigated the contribution of reward sensitivity (RS) and self-control (SC) to uncontrolled eating (UE) in a non-clinical sample. The EEG of 38 food-deprived female participants was recorded (a) during resting state, (b) while attentively viewing pictures of low-calorie (LC) and high-calorie (HC) foods with matched palatability, and (c) while regulating craving responses to HC food pictures using three common strategies: reappraisal, distraction, and mindful viewing. Activity in the beta and theta frequency bands was used as a correlate of RS and SC, respectively. During the attentive viewing and the three regulation conditions subjective craving ratings were also collected. The Power of Food Scale was used as a trait UE measure. The results showed that women with higher UE may exhibit situationally increased RS, reflected in elevated beta activity during the resting state. Importantly, direct exposure to food stimuli did not further amplify the relationship between UE and beta activity. This pattern indicates that physiological hunger rather than exposure to food cues may be the primary factor in UE-related activation of RS. In the current study, SC markers were not related to UE. SC difficulties may therefore not be an equally important contributor to UE as increased RS in healthy women.