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Cognitive Load Alters Neuronal Processing of Food Odors

 
: Hoffmann-Hensel, Sonja Maria; Sijben, Rik; Rodriguez-Raecke, Rea; Freiherr, J.

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Chemical senses 42 (2017), No.9, pp.723-736
ISSN: 0379-864X
ISSN: 1464-3553
English
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IVV ()

Abstract
Obesity is a major health concern in modern societies. Although decreased physical activity and enhanced intake of high-caloric foods are important risk factors for developing obesity, human behavior during eating also plays a role. Previous studies have shown that distraction while eating increases food intake and leads to impaired processing of food stimuli. As olfaction is the most important sense involved in flavor perception, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques to investigate the influence of cognitive memory load on olfactory perception and processing. Low-and high-caloric food odors were presented in combination with either low or high cognitive loads utilizing a memory task. The efficacy of the memory task was verified by a decrease in participant recall accuracy and an increase in skin conductance response during high cognitive load. Our behavioral data reveal a diminished perceived intensity for low-but not high-caloric food odors during high cognitive load. For low-caloric food odors, bilateral orbitofrontal (OFC) and piriform cortices (pirC) showed significantly lower activity during high compared with low cognitive load. For high-caloric food odors, a similar effect was established in pirC, but not in OFC. Insula activity correlates with higher intensity ratings found during the low cognitive load condition. We conclude lower activity in pirC and OFC to be responsible for diminished intensity perception, comparable to results in olfactory impaired patients and elderly. Further studies should investigate the influence of olfactory/gustatory intensities on food choices under distraction with special regards to low-caloric food.

: http://publica.fraunhofer.de/documents/N-480383.html