Manippa, V., Padulo, C., van der Laan, L. N., & Brancucci, A. (2017). Gender Differences in Food Choice: Effects of Superior Temporal Sulcus Stimulation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, [597]. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00597 

Abstract: The easy availability of food has caused a shift from eating for survival to hedonic eating. Women, compared to men, have shown to respond differently to food cues in the environment on a behavioral and a neural level, in particular to energy rich (compared to low energy) foods. It has been demonstrated that the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) is the only region exhibiting greater activation for high vs. low calorie food choices. In order to test for a possible causal role of STS in food choice, we applied high frequency transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) on STS assuming a different response pattern between males and females. Our participants (18 females, 17 males) performed a forced choice task between food pairs matched for individual liking but differed in calorie, during the left STS, right STS stimulation and sham condition. Male participants showed a general preference for low calorie (LC) foods compared to females. In addition, we observed in males, but not in females, an increase of high calorie (HC) food choice during right STS tRNS compared to sham condition and left STS tRNS. Finally, we found an increase of missed choices during right STS stimulation compared to sham condition and left STS stimulation. In conclusion, thanks to tRNS evidence, we both confirm the involvement and suggest a causal role of right posterior STS in feeding behavior. Moreover, we suggest that gender differences exist in STS mechanisms underlying food choice.

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