gms | German Medical Science

4. Wissenschaftlicher Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Essstörungen e. V. (DGESS)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Essstörungen e. V.

20.03. - 22.03.2014, Leipzig

Food-cue affected working memory performance, food craving, and eating behavior

Meeting Abstract

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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Essstörungen e.V. (DGESS). 4. Wissenschaftlicher Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Essstörungen. Leipzig, 20.-22.03.2014. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2014. Doc14dgess076

doi: 10.3205/14dgess076, urn:nbn:de:0183-14dgess0762

Published: March 17, 2014

© 2014 Meule et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: Executive functions such as working memory are tightly intertwined with self-regulation and working memory training has been proposed for potentially enhancing self-regulation. Food-cues and preoccupation with food cravings have been found to impair working memory performance. Furthermore, self-reported dieting success has been associated with a physiological index of executive functioning (heart rate variability) in current dieters. The current study investigated food-cue affected working memory performance as a function of dieting and dieting success in young women.

Material/Methods: Participants performed an n-back task involving pictures of food and neutral objects. They also completed questionnaires on their dieting behavior and -success, among other measures.

Results: All participants had slower reaction times in response to food pictures as compared to neutral pictures. Omission errors did not differ between picture types. Self-reported current food craving was increased after the food block, but not after the neutral block. An interaction between current dieting and dieting success predicted reaction times and omission errors such that dieting success was associated with faster reaction times in general and with fewer omission errors in the food block in current dieters. Those effects were independent of food deprivation, current food craving, body-mass-index (BMI) and restrained eating.

Conclusion: Results further support associations between executive functioning, cognitive processing of food-cues, and eating-related self-regulation. They also highlight the importance of considering both current dieting status and dieting success rather than restrained eating or BMI in such research.