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30-10-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 3/2019

Psychological Research 3/2019

Does hunger sharpen senses? A psychophysics investigation on the effects of appetite in the timing of reinforcement-oriented actions

Psychological Research > Uitgave 3/2019
Carmelo M. Vicario, Karolina A. Kuran, Cosimo Urgesi


Evidence exists about the influence of interoception on time-keeping functions. In the current study we further addressed this topic by testing the effect of fasting and snack on the ability to estimate the duration of reinforcement-oriented grasping actions. We found that, after fasting, the time estimation for the grasping of a primary reinforcement (i.e., a muffin) was positively influenced by moderate hunger. By contrast, high hunger after fasting interfered with the timing estimation for the grasping of a neutral object (i.e., a notepad). We also reported that, after snack, individuals with high residual levels of hunger showed higher variability of responses for the timing of primary-reinforcement-oriented actions; conversely, those with low level of hunger (after snack) showed higher response variability in the timing of secondary-reinforcement-oriented actions. Finally, timing variability in the fasting condition negatively correlated with the Body Mass Index of our participants. Overall, our results indicate that both the modification of the physiological state and individual traits related to appetite might affect the subjective experience of time. This is in line with the accumulating evidence documenting the influence of interoception in temporal processing and, more in general, with the New Look in Perception theoretical view, stating that the perception of external events might be influenced by motivational states.

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