You might have seen how people’s faces light up when they see a cheesy slice of pizza. However, did you know that along with your faces, there are a particular set of neurons that light up when you look at delicious food? Sounds interesting, right?
Well, according to a new study from researchers at MIT, a specialized part of your visual cortex lights up when you look at a juicy burger or a pack of fries. These food-responsive neurons are found in the ventral visual stream, along with neurons that respond to faces, bodies, places, and words.
Food lights your brain: says MIT
MIT researchers have discovered that food images appear to activate a specific set of neurons. And per the researchers, these neurons could have evolved due to the evolutionary and cultural importance of food for humans.
Previous research discovered that similar brain regions are highly apt in recognizing and remembering things like faces, places, bodies, and words. And it turns out these neurons also light up when you drool over great-looking food.
According to Nancy Kanwisher, a Walter A. Rosenblith professor at MIT, “Food is central to human social interactions and cultural practices. It’s not just sustenance“. She further states that food is central to many aspects of our cultural identity, religious practice, social interactions, and many other activities that humans engage in. Food being a primary necessitate for human beings, triggers the brain in different ways.
How was the research conducted?
The research team conducted a large-scale study that included thousands of images to reach a conclusion. The research is based on an examination of an extensive public database of human brain responses to a set of 10,000 images.
However, they raise numerous additional questions about how and why this neural population develops. In future studies, the researchers hope to investigate how people’s reactions to different foods may differ depending on their preferences and dislikes, as well as their familiarity with certain types of food.
What did they find?
The researchers conducted their study on a variety of food items to know how the brain to them. According to the study’s findings, “even though apples, corn, and pasta appear to be so dissimilar, there is a single population that responds similarly to all of these diverse food items.”
Cooked meals, such as a cheesy slice of pizza, elicited slightly stronger reactions than raw fruit and vegetables, according to the researchers. They compared participants’ reactions to cool-toned images of food and richly colored non-food objects to see if this was due to warmer colors in prepared food. They discovered that food produced a much stronger signal. What are your thoughts on the study? Comment down below.