BOLD activity during emotion reappraisal positively correlates with dietary self-control success

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2020 Jul 23;nsaa097. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsaa097. Online ahead of print.


We combined established emotion regulation and dietary choice tasks with fMRI to investigate behavioral and neural associations in self-regulation across the two domains in human participants. We found that increased BOLD activity during the successful reappraisal of positive and negative emotional stimuli was associated with dietary self-control success. This cross-task correlation was present in medial and lateral prefrontal cortex as well as the striatum. In contrast, BOLD activity during the food choice task was not associated with self-reported emotion regulation efficacy. These results suggest that neural processes utilized during the reappraisal of emotional stimuli may also facilitate dietary choices that override palatability in favor of healthfulness. In summary, our findings indicate that the neural systems supporting emotion reappraisal can generalize to other behavioral contexts that require reevaluation of rewarding stimuli and outcomes to promote choices that conform with the current goal.

Keywords: dietary self-control; emotion; fMRI; food choice; reappraisal.