Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking | 13 Nov 2015
PA Schroeder, J Lohmann, MV Butz and C Plewnia
Palatable food induces general approach tendencies when compared to nonfood stimuli. For eating disorders, the modification of an attention bias toward food was proposed as a treatment option. Similar approaches have been efficient for other psychiatric conditions and, recently, successfully incorporated approach motivation. The direct impact of attentional biases on spontaneous natural behavior has hardly been investigated so far, although actions may serve as an intervention target, especially seeing the recent advances in the field of embodied cognition. In this study, we addressed the interplay of motor action execution and cognition when interacting with food objects. In a Virtual Reality (VR) setting, healthy participants repeatedly grasped or warded high-calorie food or hand-affordant ball objects using their own dominant hand. This novel experimental paradigm revealed an attention-like bias in hand-based actions: 3D objects of food were collected faster than ball objects, and this difference correlated positively with both individual body mass index and diet-related attitudes. The behavioral bias for food in hand movements complements several recent experimental and neurophysiological findings. Implications for the use of VR in the treatment of eating-related health problems are discussed.
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