Reduction of food cravings through concurrent visuospatial processing
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Objective Two experiments adopted a working memory approach to evaluate the effectiveness of visuospatial tasks as a technique for reducing food cravings. Method Dieting and nondieting women were asked to form images of both food‐related and nonfood items, induced by either pictures (Experiment 1) or verbal cues (Experiment 2). They were required to concurrently perform one of three tasks that load on the visuospatial sketch pad of working memory: saccadic eye movements, dynamic visual noise, or spatial tapping. Results In support of the working memory model of limited visuospatial capacity, concurrent visuospatial activity reduced the vividness of food‐related images which, in turn, reduced the intensity of the associated craving. The same pattern of results was observed across dieters and nondieters and for all stimulus types. Discussion Visuospatial tasks may provide a useful technique for the treatment of food craving episodes in both nonclinical and clinical populations.