Researchers found that women responded better to romantic cues once they were well-fed instead of being on an empty stomach.
Alice Ely, PhD, completed a research as a part of pursuing a doctoral degree at Drexel. She is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research. She along with Michael R. Lowe, PhD, a professor at Drexel University published their study.
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The study was to see the brain activity while hungry among women. They took a sample of 20 young women. The women were all of normal weight. Among them were women who had never attempted to diet. The other half consisted of young women who had dieted.
The women were asked to diet for 8 days. The fasting allowed them to be in a deprived state as they came in for the experiment. The experiment was conducted in a lab. The test procedure consisted of hooking each participant with MRI. The participants were checked on whether their deprived state effected their response for romantic cues.
The women were shown an array of pictures which included pictures of romantic cues. They were randomly mixed with neutral image. The brain activity was minimum in such case. The researchers then gave the participants a supplementary diet drink. The drink helped them regain their strength and they were fully satiated.
“We found that young women both with and without a history of dieting had greater brain activation in response to romantic pictures in reward-related neural regions after having eaten than when hungry,” said Ely.
Once again, when the women were put into same conditions and they were checked for brain activity with the same procedure. This time however the results were really different. The brain activity of the participants were very responsive to the romantic stimuli.
Researchers justified that once the stomach is full, a person can concentrate on other things. During hunger, she only thought about food. After her fast broke, she was able to concentrate on other things.
The brain activity being monitored becomes very active. Ely admitted that the result was contrary to previous research. The study they conducted was just a pilot. The study will have to be proven by testing a bigger and more diverse sample before saying anything in concrete terms.
“Based on this study, we hypothesized that historical dieters are differentially sensitive— after eating—to rewards in general, so we tested this perception by comparing the same groups’ brain activation when viewing romantic pictures compared to neutral stimuli in a fasted and fed state,” she said.
Ely said that the results were a surprise but experts suggest that the results are very much cohesive with the human nature. Furthermore, Ely found that women who had dieted showed better response to the cues than women who had never dieted. Reason being that women who have dieted have a sense of motivation to acquire food. Their brain activity is better and quicker.
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The study has been published online on a journal named Appetite.