Compared to self-immersion, mindful attention reduces salivation and automatic food bias

Constanza Baquedano, Rodrigo Vergara, Vladimir Lopez, Catalina Fabar, Diego Cosmelli, Antoine Lutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Immersing ourselves in food images can sometimes make it feel subjectively real, as if the actual food were right in front of us. Excessive self-immersion into mental content, however, is a hallmark of psychological distress, and of several psychiatric conditions. Being aware that imagined events are not necessarily an accurate depiction of reality is a key feature of psychotherapeutic approaches akin to mindfulness-based interventions. Yet, it is still largely unknown to what extent one's engagement with mental content, considering it as real, biases one's automatic tendencies toward the world. In this study, we measured the change in subjective realism induced by a self-immersion and a mindful attention instruction, using self-reports and saliva volumes. Then, we measured behaviorally the impact of subjective realism changes on automatic approach bias toward attractive food (FAB) using an approach-Avoidance task. We found a reduction in saliva volume, followed by a reduction in FAB in the mindful condition compared to the immersed condition. During the immersed condition only, saliva volumes, state and trait measures of subjective realism, and food craving traits were positively correlated with FAB values, whereas meditation experience was negatively correlated to it. We conclude that mindful attention instructions can de-Automatize food bias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13839
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


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