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Keywords:

  • emotional eating;
  • fMRI;
  • binge eating;
  • negative effect;
  • reward sensitivity

Abstract

Objective:

To test the hypothesis that emotional eaters show greater neural activation in response to food intake and anticipated food intake than nonemotional eaters and whether these differences are amplified during a negative versus neutral mood state.

Method:

Female emotional eaters and nonemotional eaters (N = 21) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during receipt and anticipated receipt of chocolate milkshake and a tasteless control solution while in a negative and neutral mood.

Results:

Emotional eaters showed greater activation in the parahippocampal gyrus and anterior cingulate (ACC) in response to anticipated receipt of milkshake and greater activation in the pallidum, thalamus, and ACC in response to receipt of milkshake during a negative relative to a neutral mood. In contrast, nonemotional eaters showed decreased activation in reward regions during a negative versus a neutral mood.

Discussion:

Results suggest that emotional eating is related to increased anticipatory and consummatory food reward, but only during negative mood. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2009