The temporal sequence of magnetic brain activity for food categorization and memorization - an exploratory study
The importance of food stimuli for all living organisms is defined by their relevance for survival. Therefore, visual processing of food stimuli is influenced by many factors, such as cultural and societal background. In this magnetoencephalography (MEG) study, we examined the categorization and memorization of visual food and non-food stimuli in lean subjects, using a one-back working memory task. We found an increase in neural activity in several different regions of the brain elicited by food stimuli in comparison to non-food stimuli. The first observed significant difference was found in low-level visual areas as early as 120ms after stimulus onset. The stimulus category of the previous picture did not influence this effect. However, preceding stimuli modulated behavioral measures (reaction time and accuracy of responses) and later components of the evoked responses around 350ms. The evoked magnetic field of this late component showed a significant increase inactivity in the temporal cortex for food versus non-food objects. This late component exhibited a significant correlation with the reaction time. The difference of category-specific effects in the early components and the behavioral modulation of late components could be useful for further investigations of the cortical activity in response to food stimuli, e.g. in subjects with eating disorders or obesity.
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