Context matters: Neural processing of food-flavored e-cigarettes and the influence of smoking

Description: E-cigarettes are harmful, addictive, and popular. In e-cigarettes, nicotine is often paired with food-flavors. How this pairing of nicotine and food cues influences neural processing warrants investigation, as in smokers, both types of cues activate similar brain regions. Additionally, while most e-cigarettes are sweet, savory e-cigarettes are seemingly absent, although savory flavors are commonly liked in food. To understand how smoking status and type of flavor modulate reactions to food-flavored e-cigarettes, in comparison to actual food, neural and subjective responses to food odors were measured in a 2 (sweet vs. savory odor) x2 (food vs. e-cigarette context) x2 (smokers vs. non-smokers) design in 22 occasional/light smokers and 25 non-smokers. During fMRI scanning, participants were exposed to sweet and savory odors and pictures creating the two contexts. Liking and wanting were repeatedly measured on a 100-unit visual-analogue-scale. Results show that sweet e-cigarettes were liked (Δ = 14.2 ± 1.7) and wanted (Δ = 39.5 ± 3.1) more than savory e-cigarettes, and their cues activated the anterior cingulate more (cluster-level qFDR = 0.003). Further, we observed context-dependent variations in insula response to odors (cluster-level qFDR = 0.023, and = 0.030). Savory odors in an e-cigarette context were wanted less than the same odors in a food-context (Δ = 32.8 ± 3.1). Smokers and non-smokers reacted similarly to flavored product cues. Our results indicate that the principles of flavor preference in food cannot directly be applied to e-cigarettes and that it is challenging to design sweet and savory e-cigarettes to appeal to smokers only.

Communities: nutritional

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Add DateNov. 22, 2023, 12:46 p.m.
Uploaded byIna_Marisa_Hellmich
Related article DOI10.1016/j.biopsycho.2024.108754
Related article authorsIna M. Hellmich, Erna J.Z. Krüsemann, Joris R.H. van der Hart, Paul A.M. Smeets, Reinskje Talhout and Sanne Boesveldt
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