Overweight and obesity are prevalent public health problems that impact physical, mental, and social health. Many studies have evaluated weight loss treatments, but most individuals are unsuccessful at maintaining weight loss long-term. Behavioral and cognitive interventions may be effective in promoting weight loss and weight loss maintenance. One cognitive intervention that has shown potential success in reducing weight and caloric intake is inhibitory control training (ICT). ICT involves trainings where individuals are asked to repeatedly withhold dominant responses to unhealthy or high-calorie food images in an effort to increase food-related inhibitory control abilities. Reductions in caloric intake or weight may occur after as little as one week of ICT; however, it is unclear how more frequent ICT sessions promote weight loss and reduce caloric intake. Further, studies on food-specific ICT are generally poorly powered and it is unclear how ICT affects underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms. One way to measure inhibitory control processes is through the N2 component of the scalp-recorded event-related potential (ERP). The amplitude of the N2 ERP component tends to be larger (i.e., more negative) when an individual inhibits a dominant response during go/no-go tasks compared to non-inhibition go trials. I conducted a quasi-randomized controlled trial where 100 individuals with overweight or obesity were assigned to either a generic (active control; n = 48) or food-specific ICT (experimental group; n = 52). ICTs were completed four times per week for four weeks. Weight and caloric intake were obtained at baseline, immediately after four-weeks of ICT, and at a 12-week follow-up. Participants also completed a high-calorie and a neutral go/no-go task while electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded at each visit. Results from mixed model analyses suggest that neither weight, caloric intake, nor N2 ERP component amplitude towards high-calorie foods changed at post-testing or at the 12-week follow up for either group. Regression analyses suggest that individuals with lower baseline levels of inhibition may show greater weight loss and reductions in caloric intake after a generic ICT, while individuals with higher baseline levels of inhibition may show greater weight loss and reductions in caloric intake after a food-specific ICT. Self-report ratings indicated the appetitive drive towards food decreased over the course of the study, particularly for individuals with higher levels of baseline inhibition. Overall, generic- or food-specific ICT did not affect weight, caloric intake, or food-specific N2 ERP amplitude. Food-specific ICT may be more effective in reducing caloric intake and weight for individuals with larger inhibition responses to food stimuli, while generic ICT may be more effective in reducing caloric intake and weight for individuals with smaller inhibition responses to food stimuli. ICT may also be targeting other mediating processes, such as the appetitive value of food, as opposed to improving food-specific inhibitory control.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Carbine, Kaylie A., "Does Inhibitory Control Training Reduce Weight and Caloric Intake in Adults with Overweight and Obesity? A Pre-Registered, Randomized Controlled Event-Related Potential Study" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 8891.
inhibitory control training, food-related inhibitory control, N2 ERP, weight, caloric intake