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Feeling happy or sad changes oral perceptions of fat for mildly depressed individuals

Oral perceptions of fat, taste stimuli altered by mood, state of mind

Subjects with mild, subclinical depression rate the taste of high-fat and low-fat foods similarly when in a positive or negative mood, according to research published June 5 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Petra Platte and colleagues from the University of Wurzburg, Germany.

The researchers examined how non-pathological levels of depression, anxiety and experimentally manipulated moods could affect participants' oral perceptions of fat and other taste stimuli like sweet, sour, bitter and umami flavors. Participants in the study were scored for symptoms of depression and anxiety, and shown video clips of happy, sad and neutral scenes from movies to put them in a positive, negative or neutral mood. Before and after watching the clips, they were asked to rate a series of liquids based on the intensity of flavor they experienced. They were also asked to gauge the fat content in milk samples by mouth-feel.

After watching a happy or sad movie clip, participants with mild, subclinical signs of depression were unable to tell the difference between a high-fat and low-fat sample, whereas they could distinguish between the two after watching a clip from a neutral film, as well as before they watched the movies. These participants with higher depression scores also rated bitter and sweet tastes as being more intense after they watched the movie clips than they did before this mood-inducing exercise. The authors conclude that their results may have potential implications for unhealthy eating patterns, as this inability to distinguish tastes may cause mildly depressed individuals to unconsciously eat more fatty foods.

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Citation: Platte P, Herbert C, Pauli P, Breslin PAS (2013) Oral Perceptions of Fat and Taste Stimuli Are Modulated by Affect and Mood Induction. PLOS ONE 8(6): e65006. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065006

Financial Disclosure: This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants DC 02995, DC 011393 (PASB) and DFG grant HE 5880/3-1. This publication was funded by the German Reserarch Foundation (DFG) and the University of Wuerzburg in the funding programme Open Access Publishing. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLEASE LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT (URL goes live after the embargo ends): http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0065006

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