Alpha oscillations and event related potentials reflect distinct dynamics of attribute construction and evidence accumulation in dietary decision making

  1. Azadeh HajiHosseini  Is a corresponding author
  2. Cendri A Hutcherson
  1. University of Toronto, Canada
  2. University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada


How does regulatory focus alter attribute value construction (AVC) and evidence accumulation (EA)? We recorded EEG during food choices while participants responded naturally or regulated their choices by attending to health attributes or decreasing attention to taste attributes. Using a drift diffusion model, we predicted the time course of neural signals associated with AVC and EA. Results suggested that event-related-potentials (ERPs) correlated with the time course of model-predicted taste-attribute signals, with no modulation by regulation. By contrast, suppression of frontal and occipital alpha power correlated with the time course of EA, tracked tastiness according to its goal relevance, and predicted individual variation in successful down-regulation of tastiness. Additionally, an earlier rise in frontal and occipital theta power represented food tastiness more strongly during regulation, and predicted a weaker influence of food tastiness on behaviour. Our findings illuminate how regulation modifies the representation of attributes during the process of evidence accumulation.

Data availability

Raw data are deposited on Open Science Framework, under the project DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/EWTVX .Raw Behavioural data: EEG data:

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Azadeh HajiHosseini

    Psychology, University of Toronto, Tororonto, Canada
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7621-6527
  2. Cendri A Hutcherson

    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4441-4809


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RGPIN-2016-06541)

  • Cendri A Hutcherson

Canada Research Chairs

  • Cendri A Hutcherson

Connaught Fund

  • Cendri A Hutcherson

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: All subjects gave written consent for data collection and publication prior to the experiment. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Board of the University of Toronto (Protocol #34322).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Redmond G O'Connell, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Version history

  1. Received: July 9, 2020
  2. Accepted: July 9, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 15, 2021 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: July 28, 2021 (version 2)


© 2021, HajiHosseini & Hutcherson

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


  • 1,073
    Page views
  • 162
  • 6

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, PubMed Central, Scopus.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)

Cite this article (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

  1. Azadeh HajiHosseini
  2. Cendri A Hutcherson
Alpha oscillations and event related potentials reflect distinct dynamics of attribute construction and evidence accumulation in dietary decision making
eLife 10:e60874.

Further reading

    1. Neuroscience
    Federico G Segala, Aurelio Bruno ... Daniel H Baker
    Research Article

    How does the human brain combine information across the eyes? It has been known for many years that cortical normalization mechanisms implement ‘ocularity invariance’: equalizing neural responses to spatial patterns presented either monocularly or binocularly. Here, we used a novel combination of electrophysiology, psychophysics, pupillometry, and computational modeling to ask whether this invariance also holds for flickering luminance stimuli with no spatial contrast. We find dramatic violations of ocularity invariance for these stimuli, both in the cortex and also in the subcortical pathways that govern pupil diameter. Specifically, we find substantial binocular facilitation in both pathways with the effect being strongest in the cortex. Near-linear binocular additivity (instead of ocularity invariance) was also found using a perceptual luminance matching task. Ocularity invariance is, therefore, not a ubiquitous feature of visual processing, and the brain appears to repurpose a generic normalization algorithm for different visual functions by adjusting the amount of interocular suppression.

    1. Neuroscience
    Meghan Jelen, Pierre-Yves Musso ... Michael D Gordon
    Research Article

    Tastes typically evoke innate behavioral responses that can be broadly categorized as acceptance or rejection. However, research in Drosophila melanogaster indicates that taste responses also exhibit plasticity through experience-dependent changes in mushroom body circuits. In this study, we develop a novel taste learning paradigm using closed-loop optogenetics. We find that appetitive and aversive taste memories can be formed by pairing gustatory stimuli with optogenetic activation of sensory neurons or dopaminergic neurons encoding reward or punishment. As with olfactory memories, distinct dopaminergic subpopulations drive the parallel formation of short- and long-term appetitive memories. Long-term memories are protein synthesis-dependent and have energetic requirements that are satisfied by a variety of caloric food sources or by direct stimulation of MB-MP1 dopaminergic neurons. Our paradigm affords new opportunities to probe plasticity mechanisms within the taste system and understand the extent to which taste responses depend on experience.