Psychology

Restaurant Behavior

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Science  07 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5647, pp. 953
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5647.953c

Food is a basic human need, yet our interest in it goes far beyond mere sustenance. Elaborate and sophisticated treatises describe in great detail the aesthetic and sensory pleasures derived from its preparation, consumption, and postprandial deconstruction. Using brain imaging techniques, Arana et al. describe the contributions of three cortical areas to the assessment of food. In order to focus on valuations, the subjects were tested after having eaten cheese sandwiches ad libitum. They were then asked to order from a menu listing favored items, such as aromatic crispy duck, and less appealing ones, such as seared plaice. Activity in the amygdala correlated with how highly the particular item was rated. Elsewhere, the medial orbitofrontal region appeared to be involved in integrating these valuations, and activity here varied with the difficulty of making a selection. Finally, the lateral orbitofrontal region came into play when subjects faced an agonzing choice between two highly desirable dishes as compared to blander fare. — GJC

J. Neurosci. 23, 9632 (2003).

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