Foraging minds in modern environments: High-calorie and savory-taste biases in human food spatial memory

Rachelle de Vries*, Emely de Vet, Kees de Graaf, Sanne Boesveldt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human memory may show sensitivity to content that carried fitness-relevance throughout evolutionary history. We investigated whether biases in human food spatial memory exist and influence the eating behavior of individuals within the modern food environment. In two lab studies with distinct samples of 88 participants, individuals had to re-locate foods on a map in a computer-based spatial memory task using visual (Study 1) or olfactory (Study 2) cues that signaled sweet and savory high- and low-calorie foods. Individuals consistently displayed an enhanced memory for locations of high-calorie and savory-tasting foods – regardless of hedonic evaluations, personal experiences with foods, or the time taken to encode food locations. However, we did not find any clear effects of the high-calorie or savory-taste bias in food spatial memory on eating behavior. Findings highlight that content matters deeply for the faculty of human food spatial memory and indicate an implicit cognitive system presumably attuned to ancestral priorities of optimal foraging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104718
JournalAppetite
Volume152
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Cognitive bias
  • Eating behavior
  • Food spatial memory
  • Olfaction
  • Optimal foraging theory
  • Vision

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