Two experiments investigate effects related to food intake in humans. In Experiment 1, we measured startle responsemodulation while study participants ate ice cream, yoghurt, and chocolate. Statistical analysis revealed that ice cream intake resulted in the most robust startle inhibition compared to no food. Contrasting females and males, we found significant differences related to the conditions yoghurt and chocolate. In females, chocolate elicited the lowest response amplitude followed by yoghurt and ice cream. In males, chocolate produced the highest startle response amplitude even higher than eating nothing, whereas ice cream produced the lowest. Assuming that high response amplitudes reflect aversive motivation while low response amplitudes reflect appetitive motivational states, it is interpreted that eating ice cream is associated with the most appetitive state given the alternatives of chocolate and yoghurt across gender. However, in females alone eating chocolate, and in males alone eating ice cream, led to the most appetitive state. Experiment 2 was conducted to describe food intake-related brain activity by means of source localization analysis applied to electroencephalography data (EEG). Ice cream, yoghurt, a soft drink, and water were compared. Brain activity in rostral portions of the superior frontal gyrus was found in all conditions. No localization differences between conditions occurred. While EEG was found to be insensitive, startle response modulation seems to be a reliable method to objectively quantify motivational states related to the intake of different foods.
Journal of Psychophysiology Vol. 24, Issue 1, p. 25-32