Why does this pungent delicacy give some the munchies, but send others reeling to the toilet?
researchers at the Université de Lyon used fMRI imaging to explore the brains of both cheese lovers and haters while they were viewing and inhaling dairy. Pumping the scents of blue cheese, cheddar, goat cheese, Gruyere, Parmesan and tomme into volunteers’ noses revealed that the brain’s reward center displayed aversion behavior activity among cheese haters, reports lead author Jean-Pierre Royet. Further, inactivity in a region that typically fires up when hungry people see food led Royet to suggest that those disgusted by cheese may no longer view it as food at all.
The work recently won an Ig Nobel, the parody Nobel Prize-inspired awards intended to celebrate science that first makes you laugh but then makes you think (or in this case, stink). But while scanning people’s brains as they experience an olfactory onslaught may be entertaining, it could also be illuminating.