Do food odors differently influence cerebral activity depending on weight status? An electroencephalography study of implicit olfactory priming effects on the processing of food pictures

Isabella Zsoldos, Charlotte Sinding, Ambre Godet, Stéphanie Chambaron
Neuroscience 2021 January 19
Attentional automatic processes and cerebral activity may differ between individuals with different weight statuses in the presence of food stimuli (e.g. odors, pictures). In the present study, we used an implicit olfactory priming paradigm to test the influence of non-attentively perceived food odors on the cerebral activity underlying the processing of food pictures, in normal-weight, overweight, and obese adults. A pear odor and a pound cake odor were used as primes, respectively priming sweet low-energy-density foods and high-energy-density foods. Event-related potentials were recorded while the participants passively watched pictures of sweet low and high-energy-density foods, under the two priming conditions plus an odorless control condition. The amplitude and latency of several peaks were measured (P100, N100, P200, N400). As a major result, we found that weight status influences the cerebral activity underlying the processing of food cues outside of consciousness, as early as the first detectable P100 peak.

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