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      Getting access to the self: Effects of self-management therapy on the development of self-regulation and inhibitory control in obese adolescents

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          Background and aims: This study investigated the role of self-regulation competencies in general and specifically in a food-related context for the control of body weight in a three-year weight loss program. Methods: The sample consisted of 30 male and female adolescents (age range: 11–18 years) who participated in a three-year therapy program for severe obesity (mean BMI at the beginning of the intervention was 33.6). Assessment of self-regulation competencies was conducted at three different stages (1 st–3 rd graduation/class year). Therefore, three independent groups of adolescents ( N = 10) at these different stages were tested (initial-to final-stage of therapy). At the time of testing the BMI of these groups significantly differed from 38.8 to 28.7. Analyses of covariance were performed to determine whether the adolescents also differed in self-regulation skills like “resistance to temptation” and food-related Stroop interference along with ameliorating their energy-balance regulation. Results: In addition to the main effects of age and body mass index, adolescents further displayed significant improvements of executive functions with respect to resistance to temptation and inhibition. Conclusions: Interventions aimed at enhancing energy-balance regulation in adolescents may further benefit from efforts to facilitate executive functions such as self-regulation and food-related cognitive inhibition.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Structural and functional brain development and its relation to cognitive development.

          Despite significant gains in the fields of pediatric neuroimaging and developmental neurobiology, surprisingly little is known about the developing human brain or the neural bases of cognitive development. This paper addresses MRI studies of structural and functional changes in the developing human brain and their relation to changes in cognitive processes over the first few decades of human life. Based on post-mortem and pediatric neuroimaging studies published to date, the prefrontal cortex appears to be one of the last brain regions to mature. Given the prolonged physiological development and organization of the prefrontal cortex during childhood, tasks believed to involve this region are ideal for investigating the neural bases of cognitive development. A number of normative pediatric fMRI studies examining prefrontal cortical activity in children during memory and attention tasks are reported. These studies, while largely limited to the domain of prefrontal functioning and its development, lend support for continued development of attention and memory both behaviorally and physiologically throughout childhood and adolescence. Specifically, the magnitude of activity observed in these studies was greater and more diffuse in children relative to adults. These findings are consistent with the view that increasing cognitive capacity during childhood may coincide with a gradual loss rather than formation of new synapses and presumably a strengthening of remaining synaptic connections. It is clear that innovative methods like fMRI together with MRI-based morphometry and nonhuman primate studies will transform our current understanding of human brain development and its relation to behavioral development.
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            Human volition: towards a neuroscience of will.

            The capacity for voluntary action is seen as essential to human nature. Yet neuroscience and behaviourist psychology have traditionally dismissed the topic as unscientific, perhaps because the mechanisms that cause actions have long been unclear. However, new research has identified networks of brain areas, including the pre-supplementary motor area, the anterior prefrontal cortex and the parietal cortex, that underlie voluntary action. These areas generate information for forthcoming actions, and also cause the distinctive conscious experience of intending to act and then controlling one's own actions. Volition consists of a series of decisions regarding whether to act, what action to perform and when to perform it. Neuroscientific accounts of voluntary action may inform debates about the nature of individual responsibility.
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              The addiction-stroop test: Theoretical considerations and procedural recommendations.

              Decisions about using addictive substances are influenced by distractions by addiction-related stimuli, of which the user might be unaware. The addiction-Stroop task is a paradigm used to assess this distraction. The empirical evidence for the addiction-Stroop effect is critically reviewed, and meta-analyses of alcohol-related and smoking-related studies are presented. Studies finding the strongest effects were those in which participants had strong current concerns about an addictive substance or such concerns were highlighted through experimental manipulations, especially those depriving participants of the substance. Theories to account for addiction-related attentional bias are discussed, of which the motivational theory of current concerns appears to provide the most complete account of the phenomenon. Recommendations are made for maximizing the precision of the addiction-Stroop test in future research. Copyright 2006 APA, all rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                Akadémiai Kiadó, co-published with Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
                1 June 2012
                : 1
                : 2
                : 68-73
                [ 1 ] Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Ruhr-University of Bochum, Bochum, Germany
                [ 2 ] International Centre for the Study of Occupational and Mental Health, Düsseldorf, Germany
                Author notes

                To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.

                La Rochefoucauld

                [* ] +49 (0) 234 32-24627, +49 (0) 234 32-04627, marlies.pinnow@
                © 2012 The Author(s)

                Open Access statement. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

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