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Food is so central to humans’ life that keeping our mind away from it is not an easy task. Because of its strong motivational value, food cues attract our attention. However, often food is truly not relevant to our on-going activities. In the present study we investigated the distracting role that task-irrelevant foods (natural and manufactured) and food-cues play in performing goal-directed reaching movements. We explored whether spatial and temporal parameters of reaching movement were influenced by the presence of task-irrelevant stimuli (i.e., distractor effect), and whether this effect was modulated by participants’ implicit and explicit ratings of food items and participants’ tendency to restrain their diet. First we found that the movement trajectory veered consistently toward food items and food-related distractors. Second, we found that participants’ own evaluation of natural and manufactured food played a differential predicting role of the magnitude of temporal and spatial parameters of the distractor effect induced by these types of food. We conclude that perceptual and attentional systems provide preferential access to stimuli in the environment with high significance for organisms.

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Journal Article

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