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 Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

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: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>