Pictures of food increase taste: study

Does this picture make you hungry? Are you thinking about getting pizza for lunch now?


And if you’re undecided on whether you should have some dessert to wash it down, take a look at this picture.

Does that make up your mind?

According to a Swiss study, just looking at images of food can change our taste experience.

The study, published in the PLoS ONE Journal was led by Johannes le Coutre from the Nestle Research Centre in Switzerland, and examined the reactions of nine males and five females aged between 22 and 30.

The Nestle Research Centre funded the study, and were responsible for its conception, experiments and data analysis.

The researchers used new kinds of neuro-imaging which found brain mechanisms of visual-gustatory sensory interactions involved with food enjoyment, which have not been observed in any previous studies.

When the participants were shown images of high-kilojoule foods like pizza and pastry, the subsequent tastes were more enjoyable.

But when it was healthier foods like watermelon and green beans, the positive taste experience was not as heightened.

The researchers believe the findings indicate the importance of visual food appeal as one determinant for nutritional reward.

It also shows the undeniable connection between the different senses, which will no doubt now be used to greater affect by the company in its advertising of food.

“The study provides novel insights into cross-modal sensory interactions underlying taste and, in extension, probably also food evaluation and consumption,” le Coutre said.

“Future studies will have to elucidate to what extent the brain regions shown to be involved in visual-gustatory interactions could account for regulation of appetite and food intake control in real world settings.”

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