Cognitive Control of Eating: the Role of Memory in Appetite and Weight Gain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The present review organises the recent literature on the role of memory in eating behaviours and provides an overview of the current evidence relating to the associations between memory and weight gain.

RECENT FINDINGS: Research over the last few years has highlighted working memory as an important cognitive process that underpins many aspects of appetite control. Recent work on episodic memory and appetite has replicated work showing that manipulating memory for recent eating affects later consumption and extended this work to examine associations between individual differences in memory and eating behaviours. Poorer episodic memory ability is related to a reduced sensitivity to internal states of hunger and satiety and a tendency towards uncontrolled eating. There is also recent evidence to suggest that working memory and episodic memory impairments are related to weight gain and high BMI. Working memory and episodic memory are core cognitive processes that are critical for food-related decision-making, and disruption to these processes contributes to problems with appetite control and weight gain, which suggests that weight loss programmes might be improved by the addition of cognitive training.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50–59
JournalCurrent Obesity Reports
Issue number1
Early online date12 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Episodic memory, Working memory, Eating behaviour , Obesity, Cognition, Appetite