Not About Food

Taste expectations shape taste perceptions


Not About Food 3

Taste expectations shape taste perceptions

Brian S | Feb 22, 2006 10:42 AM

One of my friends just sent me a press release dealing with a study just concluded at the Univ of Wisconsin-Madison. (It will be published in the journal called Brain, Behavior and Immunity, volume 20, issue 2) Volunteers were put in a MRI and were given a taste of super-bitter quinine or distilled water or sugar water. Just before the taste, they were told what they were going to get -- sometimes untruthfully. To make a long story short, when a guy was given quinine after being told he was getting plain water, the MRI showed that his brain reacted as if he had been given a slightly bitter taste, in other words halfway between plain water and quinine. (Evindently, regions in the cortex also reacted, "telling" the amygdala what to taste.) It seems to me that this might explain why guidebooks based on votiing surveys usually rank well-reviewed restaurants highest. The diners expect the food to taste wonderful, and so that is what their brains perceive. No matter what they are served, they really taste wonderful food.


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