Restrained eaters (RE) show behaviourally unregulated food intake, which is often explained by a deficit in inhibitory control. Despite evidence for general inhibitory deficits in RE, it remains unclear how the variety of (food) cues in our environment can influence cognitive control.
In this re-analysis, we explored the inhibitory capacity of RE and unrestrained eaters (URE) on a stop-signal task with modal (pictures) and amodal (word) food and non-food stimuli.
Although we did not find the expected inhibitory deficits in RE compared to URE, we found a significant Group × Modality × Stimulus Type interaction. This indicated that RE have relatively good inhibitory control for food, compared to non-food modal cues, and that this relationship is reversed for amodal cues.
Hence, we showed differential processing of information based on food-specificity and presentation format in RE. The format of food cues is thus an important new avenue to understand how the food environment impedes those struggling with regulating their eating behaviour.