`Brain training` could help you stop snacking

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2012, 19:14 PM IST

London: Mind your food! `Brain training` may help you fight the urge to snack, scientists say.

Researchers believe that `brain training` exercises by handheld computer games could dramatically improve your health, adding that snack consumption and weight are linked to both brain activity and self-control.

The team from the universities of Exeter, Cardiff, Bristol and Bangor discovered that an individual`s brain "reward centre" response has more of an effect on the amount they ate than their feelings of hunger, the `Daily Mail` reported.

According to experts, the study "adds to mounting evidence that over-eating and increased weight are linked, in part, to a region of the brain associated with motivation and reward."

Academics at Exeter and Cardiff have already begun testing `brain training` techniques to reduce the lure of food on individuals with low levels of self-control. Similar tests are used to assist those with gambling or alcohol addiction.

"Our study has important implications for our understanding of how people become obese and how they might also lose weight, issues that are really important to health." Dr John Parkinson, senior lecturer at Bangor University said.

"Nobody chooses to become obese and what this research suggests is that our conscious minds are not actually driving over-eating," said Parkinson.

"Instead, enticing high-fat and high-sugar food images are getting direct access to our brain motivation systems and triggering over-eating behaviour."

Lead researcher, Dr Natalia Lawrence of the university of Exeter, said: "Our research suggests why some individuals are more likely to over-eat and put on weight than others when confronted with frequent images of snacks and treats."

"We are now developing computer programs that we hope will counteract the effects of this high sensitivity to food cues by training the brain to respond less positively to these cues," said Lawrence.

The study involved 25 young, healthy women.