The effect of food-related stimuli on inhibition in high vs. low restrained eaters

Nitzan Ganor-Moscovitz*, Noam Weinbach, Laura Canetti, Eyal Kalanthroff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Restrained eaters constantly limit their eating behavior to avoid gaining weight. Previous research suggests that fundamental deficits in response inhibition might play a role in the development of disinhibited eating among restrained eaters. The current study focuses on the impact of food vs. non-food stimuli on response inhibition in high vs. low restrained eaters. Seventy-five females (38 high and 37 low restrained eaters) completed a novel food stop-signal task in which they were required to discriminate between food and non-food images while inhibiting their response when a stop-signal appeared. The ability to inhibit a response was assessed separately for food and non-food trials, which were used to assess specific inhibition to food and general inhibitory abilities, respectively. Overall, high restrained eaters exhibited poorer response inhibition to non-food stimuli compared to low restrained eaters. Most importantly, high restrained eaters were better able to inhibit a response following presentation of food compared to non-food stimuli. In contrast, low restrained eaters were better at inhibiting a response following non-food compared to food stimuli. We suggest that this pattern is due to fast and strong activation of the response inhibition system in high restrained eaters when facing food stimuli — an activation which might later lead to a paradoxical breakdown of control over eating behavior.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)53-58
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Executive control
  • Response inhibition
  • Restrained eaters
  • Stop-signal


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