fmri and wine tasting

big_red_cabernet_sauvignon.jpg

Antonio Rangel and colleagues at California Institute of Technology thought the perception that higher price means higher quality could influence people, so they decided to test the idea

20 people were involved in the experiment. These people were told they would be given 5 different glasses of wine to drink. One of the bottles was labled $90, that was the real price. The same bottle was then mislabled $10. Another bottle of wine was labled $5, which was its real price and also marked $45. However, there were actually only three wines sampled, two being offered twice, marked with different prices. They asked these people to sample wine while undergoing functional MRIs of their brain activity. The subjects were told they were tasting five different Cabernet Sauvignons sold at different prices.The higher price wines lead to higher taste expectations in the brain shown on the image below. This shows higher activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC). This is an area of the brain that is widely thought to encode for actual experienced pleasantness.

mktmri.jpg.

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