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Title: Attention and eating behaviour : the role of cognitive control
Author: Hotham, Sarah
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the relationship between top-down attentional control in the presence of food information and eating restraint.. It does so by i) examining top-down attentional control in the presence of food cues; ii) examining how emotion, working memory and cognitive load interact with restrained eating behaviour to affect top-down attentional control; iii) examining the relationship between dieting, weight change and top-down attentional control; and iv) examining the contribution of approach and avoidance attentional strategies in the presence of food. To explore these questions both indirect (reaction times) and direct (eye movements & ERPs) indices of top-down attentional control are used. The thesis begins by discussing the role of executive functions in health behaviours and goes on to examine previous research on attentional biases in the presence of food. Finally, it presents eight experiments examining the relationship between eating restraint and top-down attentional control. These experiments utilise two paradigms-Stroop and Antisaccade Task- adapted to include images of high-fat food. In summary, a number of key findings are illustrated. First, top-down attentional control across trials is affected by individual differences in eating restraint. Second, top-down attentional control in restrained eaters varies according to the availability of food. Third, changes in weight are also related to top-down attentional control. It is concluded valence, choice and availability of food all moderate top-down attentional control, with the extent of this disruption largely dependent on individual differences in eating behaviour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available