Food deprivation disrupts normal holistic processing of domain-specific stimuli

Noa Zitron-Emanuel, Tzvi Ganel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Food deprivation has been shown to lead to a set of biological and psychological responses, including a decrease in perceptual thresholds, and an increase in attentional allocation for domain-specific, food-related stimuli. Here, we tested whether food deprivation could lead to a qualitative change in the way food is perceived. To this purpose, we tested the effect of food deprivation on a basic feature of human perception, the holistic processing of object shape. In three experiments, we examined the effect of food deprivation on participants’ susceptibility to the height–width illusion, which served as a maker for holistic processing. In all experiments, food deprivation led to an abnormal, non-holistic processing of shape, which resulted in a total reduction of the illusion for food-related, but not for control stimuli. These results show that food deprivation alters the way food is perceived, and propose that motivational factors modulate people’s resistance to perceptual distortions for domain-specific stimuli.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)302-312
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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