Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Memories Influence Choice of Food

22.05.2015

The stronger our memory is of a certain food, the more likely we are to choose it – even if it is the more unattractive option. Psychologists at the University of Basel conducted a study on how memory influences our choices by offering various foods and using scans to track brain activity. The researchers were able to show that the influence of memory is mediated by increasing communication between the relevant brain areas. The study has been published in the scientific journal Neuron.

Many of our everyday decisions such as “What present should I give my girlfriend?” or “Where shall we go to eat?” are based on the retrieval of relevant information from memory. The neural and cognitive mechanism of this decision-making process had not been studied in depth until now. What is known is that these brain processes involve the hippocampus, a classic memory region, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobe, a decision-making region.

Choice of snacks

In the study, a team of psychologists at the University of Basel asked 30 hungry young people to rate 48 snacks – such as crisps, chocolate bars, pretzels and wine gums – in order of preference. The snacks were presented on a computer screen in association with a particular location. The subjects then went into a magnetic resonance image scanner and were asked to choose repeatedly between two snacks, for which only the location was shown. The subjects were thus forced to recall the snack associated with the location.

The results showed that the subjects tended to prefer the snacks that they were able to recall better. Furthermore, they chose the snacks they could recall better even if they had rated them lower in the initial task and therefore considered them less attractive. Only extremely unattractive snacks were rejected even if they were remembered. The control group of 30 subjects was shown the snacks directly on the screen and its choices corresponded with the initial ratings.

Model and brain scans

The research team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural mechanisms of memory-based decisions and developed a mathematical model to represent the decision-making process and the influence of memory.

This model enabled the team to determine the strength of memory-based activation during storage in the hippocampus. An analysis of the activation during the decision-making process showed an increase in communication between the hippocampus and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

“Our study builds a bridge between two central research fields of psychology, that is, memory and decision-making research,” says Dr. Sebastian Gluth, lead author of the study. The combination of mathematical modeling and brain scans also provides an accurate understanding of how the areas of the brain are linked to the psychological sub-processes and how these areas interact with one another.

The study was conducted in cooperation with Prof. Jörg Rieskamp (University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology, Economic Psychology) and Dr. Tobias Sommer and Dr. Christian Büchel from the Institute of Systems Neuroscience at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

Original article:
Sebastian Gluth, Tobias Sommer, Jörg Rieskamp and Christian Büchel
Effective connectivity between hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex controls preferential choices from memory
Neuron

Further information:
Dr. Sebastian Gluth, University of Basel, Faculty of Psychology, tel. +41 61 267 06 06, email: sebastian.gluth@unibas.ch

Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>