the cognitive power of food

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Neuroscience and gastronomy are an interesting combination to explore in order to gain a competitive advantage in the Food & Beverage and Horeca sectors, growing their business

Choose some foodstuffs at a specific time business exerciseMe too Locals oh Restaurants in which eat meals it is an action often conditioned by factors that go well beyond the simple need to feed. the consumptionin fact, it is linked to a whole series of parameters linked not only to the context in the strict sense, but also to the person. For this reason, it can be particularly useful to resort to science, et al neuromarketing Concretely, looking at the food sector with a different perspective than usual, and counting on an ever-increasing margin for innovation, thanks above all to technological advances. Indeed, if the objective is to analyze the unconscious factors that guide consumer behavior, neuroscience, to which neuromarketing refers, also includes among its branches of study the field of neurogastronomy and of gastrophysics. These lines of study, although very technical and specialized, represent a privileged angle for the company which, by becoming aware of them, can already only initially confront its own strategies in place, with insights that speak more of ” instinct “part of its consumers, notoriously the most difficult to manage.


Regarding the neurogastronomy, we are faced with a science that deals with the relationship between food and the brain and why a particular person likes to eat one thing, over another. Teacher Gordon Berger, a neuroscientist at Yale University, is the father of this discipline which essentially studies the birth and consequent perception of flavors in individuals. In fact, it should be kept in mind that foods and drinks do not contain flavors, but odorous molecules, and it is the brain that creates smells and flavors. And it’s neurogastronomy that deals with the complex mechanisms that allow the brain to create flavors.
Alongside neurogastronomy, we can cite the gastrophysicswho sees the Oxford professor among its greatest exponents Charles Spence and indicates the complex process of people’s perception of food and drink. The term “gastrophysics” is made up of two words: “gastronomy” And “psychophysics“. Among the specificities that the use of the term “gastronomy” wants to communicate here, there is that of emphasizing the “good” of the culinary experience, which is linked to “psychophysics”, or the scientific, mechanical and physiological study of human perception also obtained thanks to techniques and technologies applied in neurosciences such as functional neuroimaging and PET.
Trying to draw a border, sometimes fleeting, between the two fields of study, one could say that neurogastronomy studies how the human brain processes sensory information related to flavors. The gastrophysicsInstead, try to understand why food has the flavor it has for everyone and why there is a predilection or incompatibility with certain dishes.

Sensory universe

Of the concepts related to the two domains described above, two are particularly relevant if they relate to business. It’s about intermodality And multisensory. With intermodality we refer to the phenomenon by which, if even one of the five human senses is stimulated, it ends up influencing the whole perception that the person has of this experience. This concept has, for example, earned a Charles Spence And Max Zampini in 2008 the price IgNobel for Nutrition, for the groundbreaking study of the “sonic chip”. In practice, the two scientists found that simply amplifying the high-frequency sounds people hear when biting into a Pringles was enough to make the potato look cooler and crisper by about 15 % from when the same sounds were muted.
For multisensory, we mean rather this phenomenon by which the gastronomic experience is integrated and perceived by the human brain thanks to more than one of the five senses, in a kind of global perception, with multiple sensory facets. About that, know the 5 senses, and their interaction, it is functional to improve customer satisfaction. For example, the connection between taste and smell inside the brain is very deep, so much so that the smells and tastes of food stimulate the limbic system, the area of ​​the brain that regulates emotions and olfactory memory. This is why memories related to aromas and perfumes are particularly recalled and why a judicious use of perfumes allows a food retailer And restorers to attract and retain customers. Hearing also plays a very important role, and in this context music plays a very valuable role. Indeed, the rhythm and the speed of the background music with which the customers consume food and drinks have an effect: a fast rhythm in the background corresponds to a faster consumption of the dishes, for example.

Consumer and sensory sciences

Today, there are several companies that specialize in becoming “intermediate organisms”, which from this specific declination of neuroscience, can provide detailed analyzes for the use and consumption of subjects such as food retailers or hospitality industry players. Depending on the needs of the company, in fact, one can resort to the so-called consumer and sensory scienceswhich, based on neurogastronomy and gastrophysics, allows use sensory methodologies in the different stages that accompany the realization of a project, whether for the development of a new product, for monitoring or evaluating performance on the market vis-à-vis competitors, or above all for the end consumers themselves, with a view to personalization. L’sensory analysis it can, in fact, be an excellent ally for identifying the so-called “dominance profile” of a product, i.e. the capacity of its characteristics to capture, from time to time during consumption, the attention to the subject. This turns out to be a fundamental asset: today “liquid” society it is increasingly difficult for a distributor or a brand to know consumer taste preferences. Knowing which references to add to the shelf, which new product to launch or which to promote and favor with its own communication, as well as having a buyer meet their ideal product, is fundamental for a successful – and above all long-term – positioning of the brand on the market. market.

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