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Appetitive Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer in Participants with Normal-Weight and Obesity

IFB Adiposity Diseases, Leipzig University Medical Center, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(5), 1037;
Received: 2 May 2019 / Accepted: 8 May 2019 / Published: 9 May 2019
PDF [758 KB, uploaded 9 May 2019]
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Altered eating behavior due to modern, food-enriched environments has a share in the recent obesity upsurge, though the exact mechanisms remain unclear. This study aims to assess whether higher weight or weight gain are related to stronger effects of external cues on motivation-driven behavior. 51 people with and without obesity completed an appetitive Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer (PIT) paradigm. During training, button presses as well as presentation of fractal images resulted in three palatable and one neutral taste outcome. In the subsequent test phase, outcome-specific and general behavioral bias of the positively associated fractal images on deliberate button press were tested under extinction. While all participants showed signs of specific transfer, general transfer was not elicited. Contrary to our expectations, there was no main effect of weight group on PIT magnitude. Participants with obesity exhibited higher scores in the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire Disinhibition scale, replicating a very robust effect from previous literature. Individual Restraint scores were able to predict body-mass index (BMI) change after a three-year period. Our data indicate that PIT is an important player in how our environment influences the initiation of food intake, but its effects alone cannot explain differences in—or future development of—individual weight. View Full-Text
Keywords: Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer; PIT; obesity; food reward; human Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer; PIT; obesity; food reward; human

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Meemken, M.-T.; Horstmann, A. Appetitive Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer in Participants with Normal-Weight and Obesity. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1037.

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