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Poster B18

Would I eat this? Event related potentials to appropriate and inappropriate food combinations

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Reiko Graham1 (, Justice Corbett1, Chloe Davis1, Idali Casas1, Amelya Rivera1, Alex Garcia1, Natalie Ceballos1; 1Texas State University

The rejection of an item as food is central to the concept of disgust, including substances that are considered inappropriate. While certain foods may be acceptable to eat as they are, they may become inappropriate when paired with other items (i.e., the combination itself is disgusting). This study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to measure the neural responses to appropriate (e.g., cheese & crackers) and inappropriate food combinations (e.g., bananas & ketchup). It was predicted that relative to appropriate combinations, inappropriate food combinations would capture attention and elicit avoidance-related tendencies, which should be reflected in ERP amplitudes and distributions. Eighteen undergraduates (6 males) viewed pairs of food words and indicated their willingness to eat the combination while EEG was monitored. Inspection of averaged ERP waveforms revealed a frontocentral positivity peaking between 275-425 ms corresponding to the P3a, the peak amplitudes and latencies for edibility judgments to appropriate vs. inappropriate pairs were examined. Analyses revealed that while latencies of the P3a did not differ as a function of condition; F(1,17) = 0.64, p > .05), P3 peak amplitudes were higher for inappropriate food pairings relative to appropriate ones; F(1,17) = 5.89, p < .05, such that P3a amplitudes were more positive for inappropriate vs. appropriate pairings (M = 9.02 vs. 7.91 µV respectively). Although preliminary, these results support interpretations of the P3a as an index of salience (larger for unexpected and inappropriate food combinations) and may also be sensitive to motivational processes recruited in self-relevant judgments.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Other


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