Emotional eating is commonly defined as the tendency to (over)eat in response to emotion. Insofar as it involves the (over)consumption of high-calorie palatable foods, emotional eating is a maladaptive behavior that can lead to eating disorders, and ultimately to metabolic disorders and obesity. Emotional eating is associated with eating disorder subtypes and with abnormalities in emotion processing at a behavioral level. However, not enough is known about the neural pathways involved in both emotion processing and food intake. In this review, we provide an overview of recent neuroimaging studies, highlighting the brain correlates between emotions and eating behavior that may be involved in emotional eating. Interaction between neural and neuro-endocrine pathways (HPA axis) may be involved. In addition to behavioral interventions, there is a need for a holistic approach encompassing both neural and physiological levels to prevent emotional eating. Based on recent imaging, this review indicates that more attention should be paid to prefrontal areas, the insular and orbitofrontal cortices, and reward pathways, in addition to regions that play a major role in both the cognitive control of emotions and eating behavior. Identifying these brain regions could allow for neuromodulation interventions, including neurofeedback training, which deserves further investigation.
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Anterior cingulate cortex
Binge eating disorder
Body mass index
Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire
Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex
Enteric nervous system
Functional magnetic resonance imaging
Inferior frontal gyrus
Late positive potential
Posterior cingulate cortex
Positron emission tomography
Resting-state functional connectivity
Supplementary motor area
Transcranial direct-current stimulation
Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire
Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex
Ventromedial prefrontal cortex
Ventral tegmental area
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The present research was funded by the University of Rennes 1, Fondation de l’Avenir, the Benjamin Delessert Institute, and INRAE. A. Godet received a PhD grant from the University of Rennes 1. Univ Rennes
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Godet, A., Fortier, A., Bannier, E. et al. Interactions between emotions and eating behaviors: Main issues, neuroimaging contributions, and innovative preventive or corrective strategies. Rev Endocr Metab Disord 23, 807–831 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-021-09700-x