New Findings on the Cue-approach Effect: An Automatic Mechanism of Behavior Change

Posted by Institutional Development Scheme for HKSYU

Event Type: Research Seminar

Event Theme: Decision Making

Speaker: Dr. Tom Schonberg (Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology and The Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Israel)

Date: 2 March 2016 (Wednesday)

Time: 2:30pm - 4:30pm

Venue: Room 101, Library Complex, HKSYU

Language: English


1) Free Admission
2) We recommend registration in advance for seat-reservation and news update.


Millions around the world, struggle with conditions such as addictions and obesity all in need of a long lasting behavioral change. Interventions usually rely on exertion of self-control but these have been shown to fail after a while and thus a different approach was needed to ensure a maintained behavioral change. We recently developed a manipulation named the cue-approach task to influence choices of snack food items relying on non-reinforced mechanisms. In the task, a neutral tone and a button press are repeatedly associated with specific pictures of items in a session lasting less than 1 hour. In a subsequent probe phase participants choose between pairs of items where only one of the items in each pair was previously associated with the cue and button press. Replicated results show that this training leads to preference changes favoring the previously cued item and that these changes last up to several months. Functional MRI results show a value change signature in the ventro-medial prefrontal cortex during the choice phase. In this talk I will discuss new findings on the conditions needed to induce the cue-approach effect as well as novel studies where we were able to change preferences towards other stimuli such as faces and fractals which attest to the generality of the effect.

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