Taste: A phenomena in our mouths or brains?
A study which assessed how people perceive the taste and value of wine was conducted using functional MRI. Twenty subjects rated the taste of Cabernet Sauvignon wines in six tasting trials. Each one was administered twice, once with a low price and once with a high price. The subjects understood the test to be related to how sampling time affects flavor perception. The reported pleasantness of the wine was found to be correlated with price, even for the same wines. Activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex increased when the subjects believed they were tasting expensive wines. Marketing influences our behavior, particularly in our perceptions of value. Now we know a little more about the neural mechanisms of this influence.