Abstract: By randomizing the order in which participants perform a cognitive test and a food choice task in a controlled experiment, we investigate whether cognitive capacity can be enhanced by the simple act of anticipating food intake. Our findings show that overweight and obese participants exhibit an anticipatory food reward effect, which helped enhance their mental resources and improve their performance in a cognitive test. However, we find no anticipation effect among normal weight participants. Furthermore, eye tracking data reveal that food temptation, in the form of visual attention and emotional arousal is higher for overweight and obese individuals when they are cognitively impaired.
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