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Raw or cooked: this is how we recognise food

30 May 2019
New study by Professor Rumiati's research group published in Scientific Reports

Do we see a pear or an apple? The occipital cortex in our brain will activate itself to recognise it. A piece of bread or a nice plate of pasta? Another region will come into play, called middle temporal gyrus. Different regions are implicated in recognition of different foods, raw in one case and processed in the other, because two components of the so-called “semantic memory”, the one that we always use to recognise the world around us, are involved.

More specifically, according to new research labelled SISSA and just published in the Scientific Reports journal, to identify “nature” foods, such as fresh fruit, the “sensory” component of semantic memory is required, in which sensory information, like the visual or tactile ones, allow us to identify an object. On the other hand, for processed or cooked foods are preferentially engaged cerebral areas associated to semantic memory that are involved in the recognition of functional features, with which we succeed in identifying an object through the function we associate to it: as if the recognition of food came through the process it had undergone, its nutritional vales or the habits in eating it. The results of this study have opened up new prospects of investigation on how our memory functions and on how our brain processes information related to food. (Image Rachel Park on Unsplash)