Reward Related Attentional Biases in Overweight, Obesity, and Binge Eating: The TRAILS Study

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


Individual differences in sensitivity to reward have been linked to several externalizing behavioral problems, and knowledge about the role of this trait in overeating might provide implications to improve the currently available treatment options. Thus far, brain imaging and self-report studies have provided inconclusive evidence about the potential role of reward sensitivity in overeating. However, often these studies use BMI as outcome measure to indicate the degree of overeating. The present study tests the hypothesis that general reward sensitivity is related to overeating (i.e., binge eating episodes) while this may not be reflected in BMI due to other influencing factors that operate independently of reward sensitivity. Participants (N=715) in the current study are a focus cohort of a large prospective population study of Dutch adolescents ( Data collection was part of the third (T3; Mage=15.9, SD=0.61) and fourth (T4; Mage=18.7, SD=0.56) data wave. During the third wave participants performed a validated spatial cueing task (Derryberry & Reed, 2002) which indexes automatic and voluntary, attentional engagement and disengagement to reward related cues. Cues that signal reward will be more salient for individuals who are sensitive to reward, and this task thus provides a good behavioral measure of reward sensitivity. Additionally, BMI was measured on both T3 and T4 from which adjusted BMI’s were calculated, and a dichotomous score of whether participants had binge eating episodes was available from T4. Results show that attentional biases to cues that signal reward were indeed not related to BMI at baseline, BMI three years later, or the change in BMI over three years. The power of the current study allows us to conclude this with high certainty. Results with regard to the relationship between reward related attentional bias and binge eating episodes have not yet been analyzed but will be discussed during the conference.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24-Apr-2015
EventICED 2015 - Boston Marriott Copley Place Hotel, Boston, United States
Duration: 22-Apr-201525-Apr-2015


ConferenceICED 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States

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