Reducing reward responsivity and daily food desires in female dieters through domain-specific training

Soc Neurosci. 2019 Aug;14(4):470-483. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2018.1495667. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


According to the strength model, self-regulation relies on a domain-general capacity that may be strengthened by training. From this perspective, training self-regulation in one domain may transfer to other domains. Here we used two inhibitory training paradigms, a domain-general and domain-specific stop-signal training task and compared their effects on brain reward activity as well as daily food desires in female dieters. Before and after the training, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess food cue-reactivity, coupled with one week of smart-phone ecological momentary assessments to examine eating urges. Whereas the food-specific inhibitory training was successful in reducing both food cue-reactivity and food desires, the domain-general (sound-cue) training showed no transfer effects. These findings suggest that domain-specific training may be a more effective method for supporting self-regulation than domain-general approaches aimed at strengthening self-regulation across domains.

Keywords: Food; desire; neuroimaging; reward; self-control; training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Diet, Reducing / methods
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reward*
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Young Adult