New York, May 3: If you often give in to temptations of those yummy sinful desserts or mouth-watering pizza you come across in the advertisements, the reason may lie in the interplay of brain activity related to reward and self-control.
It is possible to predict who give in to food cravings and desires in real life by looking at activity in reward areas of the brain in response to pictures of appetizing food.
Here, activity in pre-frontal areas (associated with self-control) during self-control tasks can show who can resist tempting food, the research showed.
“The results provide initial evidence for neural markers of everyday eating behaviours that can identify individuals who are more likely than others to give in to temptations to eat,” said psychological scientists Rich Lopez and Todd Heatherton from Dartmouth College in the US.
The study has important implications for people who struggle with problems of overweight.
“This could help to explain a previous finding from our lab that people who show this kind of brain activity the most are also the most likely to gain weight over six months,” the researchers noted.
For the study, the researchers recruited 31 female participants to take part in an initial MRI scanning session.
For the task, participants were presented with various images, including some of high-calorie foods.
The researchers then measured the activity in the nucleus accumbens (brain activity related to reward) in response to the food-related images.
Participants who had relatively higher activity in the nucleus accumbens in response to the food images tended to experience more intense food desires.
The study appeared in the journal Psychological Science.