MCCHE Precision Convergence Webinar Series with Geraldine Coppin & Hugo Najberg

Tuesday, January 16, 2024 11:00to13:00

Can gamified interventions targeting altered cognitive processes in obesity change food valuation and consumption?

By Geraldine Coppin & Hugo Najberg

Associate Professor Psychology at UniDistance Suisse / Researcher in cognitive neuroscience at the Laboratory of Neurorehabilitation Science of the University of Fribourg


Overweight and obesity are currently major health issues. Excessive weight and/or the regular consumption of an unhealthy diet create an inflammation in many organs, and the brain is no exception. Consistently with this so-called neuroinflammation, obesity has been reliably associated with impaired cognitive functions, in particular executive functions, i.e., processes involved in the control of behavior (e.g., working memory, inhibitory processes, cognitive flexibility). Current conceptual approaches as well as empirical data consistently argue that reduced inhibitory and memory control lead to overeating. This relationship would be mediated by increased cue-triggered “wanting” for food reward, i.e. increased desire to obtain food. Some authors have even suggested the existence of a « vicious circle » in obesity – i.e., the more an unhealthy diet is consumed, the more neuroinflammation occurs, the more cognitive alterations (e.g., inhibitory control), leading to increased “wanting” for food reward, and even more unhealthy eating, and in the long-term, weight gain. Restoring inhibitory control and/or healthier responses to food cues could consequently be important levers to reduce the regular consumption of an unhealthy diet. We will present here gamified interventions targeting an ‘action- to-valuation’ mechanism of action and their impact on food valuation and real-world consumption.

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