This is your brain on food commercials…

May 8, 2013, Oxford University [blog]

By Ashley N. Gearhardt

Gooey chocolate and scoops of mouth-watering chocolate ice cream. Steaming hot golden French fries. Children see thousands of commercials each year designed to increase their desire for foods high in sugar, fat, and salt like those mentioned above. Yet, we know almost nothing about how this advertising onslaught might be affecting the brain.

A recent study in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, Oregon Research Institute, and Yale University starts to uncover how the brain responds to food commercials in teens. Thirty adolescents visited a lab to watch a typical television show that included commercial breaks composed of frequently advertised food (e.g., McDonald’s, Wendy’s) and non-food commercials (e.g., AT&T, Ford). But unlike a typical TV viewing experience, these participants had their brain response measured in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. Continue reading