Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When our eyes serve our stomach

Date:
March 2, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Our senses aren't just delivering a strict view of what's going on in the world; they're affected by what's going on in our heads. A new study finds that hungry people see food-related words more clearly than people who've just eaten.

Hungry people think pictures of food are brighter.
Credit: © Nikolay Petkov / Fotolia

Our senses aren't just delivering a strict view of what's going on in the world; they're affected by what's going on in our heads. A new study finds that hungry people see food-related words more clearly than people who've just eaten. The study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this change in vision happens at the earliest, perceptual stages, before higher parts of the brain have a chance to change the messages coming from the eyes.

Psychologists have known for decades that what's going on inside our head affects our senses. For example, poorer children think coins are larger than they are, and hungry people think pictures of food are brighter. Rémi Radel of University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France, wanted to investigate how this happens -- whether it's right away, as the brain receives signals from the eyes, or a little later, as the brain's higher-level thinking processes get involved.

Radel recruited 42 students with a normal body mass index. On the day of his or her test, each student was told to arrive at the lab at noon after three or four hours of not eating. Then they were told there was a delay. Some were told to come back in 10 minutes; others were given an hour to get lunch first. So half the students were hungry when they did the experiment and the other half had just eaten.

For the experiment, the participant looked at a computer screen. One by one, 80 words flashed on the screen for about 1/300th of a second each, at a size that was just at the threshold of what that person could consciously perceive. A quarter of the words were food-related. After each word, the person was asked how bright the word was and asked to choose which of two words they'd seen -- a food-related word like gateau (cake) or a neutral word like bateau (boat). Each word appeared too briefly for the participant to really read it.

Hungry people saw the food-related words as brighter and were better at identifying food-related words. Because the word appeared too quickly for them to be reliably seen, this means that the difference is in perception, Radel says -- it's not because of some kind of processing happening in the brain after you've already figured out what you're looking at.

"This is something great to me, that humans can really perceive what they need or what they strive for, to know that our brain can really be at the disposal of our motives and needs," Radel says. "There is something inside us that selects information in the world to make life easier."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rémi Radel et al. Evidence of Motivational Influences in Early Visual Perception: Hunger Modulates Conscious Access. Psychological Science, 2012

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "When our eyes serve our stomach." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120302193930.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, March 2). When our eyes serve our stomach. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120302193930.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "When our eyes serve our stomach." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120302193930.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) — China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins