Health Care

Your brain thinks wine tastes better when it costs more

Your brain thinks wine tastes better when it costs more”

In their study, they showed that people who think their wine is expensive tend to rate it as better wine, even if it's actually just a middle-of-the-road bottle.

The 30 participants in the study-half women, half men, all around age 30-tasted wines lying down in an MRI scanner, and before each tasting, they were shown the price.

The experient was carried out by having the respondents lie down in an MRI scanner, allowing their brain activity to be recorded while they were tasting the wines.

Not because it's better quality, but because you paid more for it.

Enjoying the "more expensive" wine was also consistent with whether the subjects were told they had to pay for it or not.

"The reward system is activated in a significantly stronger fashion with higher prices and in this way apparently also the taste experience, " said Bernd Weber, of Germany's Bonn University, which conducted the research with France's INSEAD Business School. The marketing placebo effect, however, loses its power when the bottle is super low quality, making it impossible to pass off as $100 or an artificially inflated price.

When the prices were higher, the researchers found that the medial pre-frontal cortex and ventral striatum - areas of the brain associated with reward and motivation - were activated. The medial pre-frontal cortex appeared to be involved in integrating the price comparison and thus the expectation into the evaluation of the wine.

When prices are higher, it leads us to believe that a taste is present that is not only driven by the wine itself, because the products were objectively identical in all of the tastings.

Participants were fed a sip of wine via a tube.

'As expected, the subjects stated that the wine with the higher price tasted better than an apparently cheaper one'.

The researchers hope their findings will shed light on the placebo effect - a marketing tactic often used to coerce people into buying more expensive goods.

No-one really likes looking at the wine list.

Furthermore, blind tasting studies have confirmed when prices are hidden, most people did not enjoy expensive wine over cheaper ones. This reaffirms the presence of a price tag can influence perceived taste.

'The exciting question is whether you can train the reward system [in the brain] to make it less receptive to such placebo marketing effects, ' said Prof Weber. The researchers believe this could be possible by training one's own physical perception, like taste, to a greater extent.

All wine is good wine.

"These findings provide novel evidence for the fundamental role that neural pathways linked to motivation and affective regulation play for the effect of informational cues on sensory experiences", the researchers wrote.

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