Brescia Psychology Undergraduate Honours Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-6-2017




Dr. Christine Tenk


Hyperpalatable foods are high in sugar and/or fat and highly processed. These foods increase dopamine in the brain similar to other rewards, such as drugs of abuse, producing pleasure and an enhanced drive to consume them. Undergraduate students (n = 44) completed an explicit memory task where they were asked if they recalled various types of food (high sugar, high fat, sugar+fat, fruits, vegetables and breads) and non-food images. Questionnaires evaluating eating patterns were also completed. It was hypothesized that hyperpalatable foods would be recalled better and faster than less-palatable foods or non-food images. The study found that hyperpalatable foods, especially high sugar and high fat foods, were recalled significantly faster than less palatable foods. Results also revealed significantly fewer false alarms for high sugar, high fat, and sugar+fat foods. Thus, hyperpalatable foods appear to create stronger memories, which may contribute to stronger motivation and consumption drives.