According to the study conducted by psychologists at the University of Basel, it was revealed that the influence of memories in food choice is driven by an increase in communication between two brain regions - the hippocampus and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
By this study the researchers able to show that the influence of memory is mediated by increasing communication between the relevant brain areas. The researchers asked 30 hungry young people to rate 48 snacks - such as crisps, chocolate bars, pretzels and wine gums - in order of preference.
The snacks were presented on a computer screen in association with a particular location. The subjects then went into a magnetic resonance image scanner and were asked to choose repeatedly between two snacks, for which only the location was shown.
The subjects were thus forced to recall the snack associated with the location. The results showed that the subjects tended to prefer the snacks that they were able to recall better. The participants chose the snacks which they could recall better even if they had rated them lower in the initial task and therefore considered them less attractive.
The team adds that the fMRI scans and mathematical modeling also provide an accurate understanding of how the hippocampus and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex interact with each other during decision-making. This model helped the research team to determine the strength of memory based activation during storage in the hippocampus.
The study was published in the Journal Neuron.