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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
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e60874 doi: 10.7554/eLife.60874


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: https://osf.io/yp2x9Raw EEG data: https://osf.io/p5wd2

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

Publication 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.


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