Food addiction is associated with impaired performance monitoring (2016)

Biol Psychol. 2016 Jul 15. pii: S0301-0511(16)30208-3. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.07.005.

Franken IH1, Nijs IM2, Toes A2, van der Veen FM2.


Currently, there is an ongoing debate about whether it is possible to be addicted to food. There are several indications pointing in this direction, but research is scarce. Up to this date it is not exactly known whether this “food addiction” shares common neurocognitive deficits observed in the more classical types of addictions such as substance use disorders (SUDs). One commonly observed finding in SUD patients is that there is an impaired cognitive control. One of the essential components of cognitive control is performance monitoring. In the present study it is studied whether persons with “food addiction” have impaired error monitoring. For this purpose the performance monitoring of persons meeting the criteria for “food addiction” (n=34) according to the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) were compared with a control group (n=34) while performing an Eriksen flanker task and EEG measurement. Both electrophysiological (ERN and Pe component) and behavioral measures were compared between the two groups. The present study indicates that the “food addicted” persons have reduced ERN and Pe waves. In addition, the “food addiction” group demonstrates a higher number of errors on the flanker task. In general, the results provide indications that persons with a “food addiction” display impaired performance monitoring. These findings provide an indication that food addiction, similar to other addictions, is characterized by impaired cognitive control.

KEYWORDS: ERN; Eating; Error processing; Event-related potential; Food addiction; Performance monitoring