Why do we like some foods more than other? Why we prefer doughnuts over biscuits? Or why we like different doughnuts of same brand. What is about burger and cake we crave about? And what is happening to our brain when we choose to eat what to eat. Doughnuts are irresistible but science behind resistance is interesting.
If you hopped into MRI machine and were offered a delicious chocolate milkshake. You would see your brain reward system light up like funfair. Right above your eyes is your orbital frontal cortex.
A part of the brain which is especially developed in human and primates. Here bundle of neurons respond to different sensation and nutrients taste smell how smooth and rich the milkshake feels and the more your neurons light up the more delicious the food seems.
Two things which particularly delight these reward neurons are fat and sugar. Combination of fat and sugar can be even more delightful such as that in delicious milkshake or cake or doughnuts.
But your neurons just don’t respond to these sensations they also activate when you are planning to what to eat in a contest with each other to get you to choose them.
“Pick me” says silky smooth mouth feels. “No, me” shout sugary sweetness. And once you have chosen the same neurons track your progress and as you eat they get less and less active as you approach fullness. But we are not entirely at mercy of demands of our orbital frontal cortex.
Having information about the food can make a big difference. Get back into MRI machine and slurp down some soup. There are two types one is labeled as rich and delicious flavors and the other is labeled boiled vegetable water.
Your neurons light up at the taste of rich and delicious and less for boiled vegetable water. But wait a minute you have been tricked.
They were of the same soup and the only difference was the name. That was enough to complete change your experience of it.
This experiment was also done with wine. Telling people that the wine cost more made their neurons activity increase and the wine tasted better. Another part of the brain involved in choosing food is amygdala. The amygdala also has role to play.
When you choose where to go out with another person. If you have seen what they prefer in past, your amygdala also develop neuron simulation.
These predict the choices you think they will make. Which you can then factor into your own suggestion of what to eat together.
Difference in our genes are also a factor in how susceptible we are to the siren call of our reward neuron with some people being naturally more responsive to the reward we feel from eating sugar and fat than others.
Scientific experiment gives us clues about how our brain compute our choices what to eat. But the way we experience these choices in our lives and in society is also complex.
We choose the food we eat for different reasons. Social media platforms and digital changes have diverted the interest of people. However without any doubts some foods are more demanding than others.