The fizzy taste of memory

Scientists of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas may have found out why Coke sells more than Pepsi despite being less popular in blind taste tests.

Volunteers were scanned by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which can identify activity in different parts of the brain, while they blindly drank either Coke or Pepsi and told scientists which they preferred.

The brain region called the ventral putamen was highly active when people blindly drank their favourite cola.

However, things changed when volunteers were told which brand they were drinking. This time, Coke was the undisputed king and a different part of the brain was seen to be more active by the fMRI scans.

The medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with higher thinking processes, was being used when volunteers knew what they were drinking. This proves that people make decisions based on their memories or impressions of a particular drink, as well as taste.


Stephen Quartz, from California Institute of Technology, used neuromarketing to improve movie trailers to fit the subconscious desires of moviegoers.

He put 40 volunteers into his fMRI scanner and tested their brain reactions as he projected films such as Casablanca and Good Will Hunting on to a mirror suspended above their eyes. Professor Quartz has sold the technique to film companies to help them predict blockbusters.

From The Guardian.
Related entry: The machine that reads your mind.