Omnivore - And now there's neurocuisine
Science has gone neuro-everything. Why not cuisine?
My favorite brand-new blog is Neurocuisine. The author hasn't disclosed his or her identity, but it's a pretty sure bet it's written by a neuroscience student somewhere out there.
So far the author has only written three posts. The first one introduces the blog's theme, the neuroscience of cooking and eating. The second one recounts an experiment that illustrates the way semantic memory alone can significantly affect taste:
Prof. Brian Wansink and his team at the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University took advantage of this semantic knowledge to test what the effect of “wine origin” was on several aspects of the dining experience. All diners ate the same fixed-price French dinner served by the exact same waiters in the exact same room (so stay put: all major variables were controlled for). They were all told the wine was from Noah’s Winery, a non-existent brand, so as to avoid semantic associations based on previous experiences with a specific winery. Half of the diners were told the winery was in California and the other half in North Dakota. The wine was, in fact, no other than our good ole’ friend from college: Charles Shaw’s Two Buck Chuck.
Diners who received the wine from Cali, as expected from what I told you above about semantic knowledge, rated the wine as being better than those who were told it was from North Dakota. But that was not it: Diners who had the wine from “California” also (1) rated the food higher, (2) ate up to 11% more food, and (3) were more likely to make a reservation to return to the restaurant. One would agree, thus, these were happier diners. This was a happier restaurant owner. This is a very simple experiment, and one that has been highly commented, especially in the so-called field of “neuromarketing”, but it exemplifies the way in which an everyday cognitive process (i.e., semantic memory) can influence our eating experience.
The most recent post is entitled, "Gluttony: the sin in the brain," and examines the way the hypothalamus affects quantity and frequency of eating.
UPDATE: The author of Neurocuisine wrote to identify himself. He's Ezequiel Gleichgerrcht, a neuroscience researcher in Buenos Aires.