Dr. Jessica Walker
Recent studies in the fields of Psychology and Neuroscience suggest a relationship between episodic memory and appetite regulation. A majority of these studies have used BMI as an important variable in this relationship and have found mild episodic memory deficits to be more likely in individuals with higher BMI’s. The goal of this research was to determine whether restrained disordered eating, regardless of BMI, influenced episodic memory and appetite regulation. Initially, we predicted that individuals showing dietary restraint would show signs of a stronger episodic memory, and therefore would have weaker hunger cues and stronger satiety cues, and that in restrained eaters, food objects would elicit a stronger episodic memory than that of non-food objects. We administered an object memory test, composed of both food and non-food related items, aimed at assessing episodic memory, and the EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes Test), aimed at measuring the degree of restrained eating. Among the participants who completed the study (n=94), after controlling for BMI, we found that restrained eaters (n=36) had a significantly worse episodic memory than non-restrained eaters (n=58). When we split the participants into BMI ranges (low, medium, and high) the significant difference between the restrained group and the non-restrained group in memory score remained steady. The difference in performance between the two eating assessment groups (restrained vs. non-restrained) suggests that there may be underlying cognitive differences between the two groups which impact episodic memory as a whole. While these differences are entirely opposite of what we had initially expected to find, they nonetheless affirm that there is a relationship between restrained eating and strength of episodic memory that should continued to be explored.
Kindel, Morgan, "Effects of Restrained Eating on Episodic Memory and Implications for Homeostatic Appetite Regulation" (2017). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 253.