The human brain needs only milliseconds to assess the nutritional content of a food item, even if it's only an image.This content was published on January 26, 2009 - 12:09
Scientists from four institutions, including Lausanne University and the Nestlé Research Centre, found it takes about 200 milliseconds for the brain to discriminate between high- and low-fat foods.
According to a study to be published in the journal NeuroImage on February 1, scientists presented healthy adults with pictures of foods and non-foods. They used brain-imaging equipment to monitor how the adults reacted.
The food images were secretly divided up into high- and low-fat foods, and the brain reacted differently to each. Pictures of high-fat foods stimulated areas of the brain that handle decision-making and reward potential more strongly than low-fat foods did.
Micah Murray, a neuroscientist and leader of the study, said this suggests that the brain can rapidly assess the nutritional value of food items by using the same regions that handle categorization.
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