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Food on the brain: Study finds that hungry people see food-related words more clearly
Dieticians often warn of the dangers of over-indulging on calorific snacks and buying too much if we risk going food shopping while hungry.
And it appears they may have a valid point after new research has discovered that how hungry we are directly effects how we view everyday situations.
The study, published in Psychological Science, found that hungry people see food-related words more clearly than people who’ve just eaten.
Dieticians who warn of the risks of going shopping while hungry may have a valid point as study finds that we really do have food on the brain
Participants in the experiment were shown a variety of words in quick succession with those who were hungry being far better at identifying those related to food and claimed those words appeared brighter than others.
Psychologist Rmi Radel, of France's University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, designed a test where 42 students were told to show up at noon after at least three or four hours of not eating.
Some were then told to come back in ten minutes – leaving them no time to grab food – while others were told to return in an hour after they'd eaten.
The participants then watched a computer screen as eighty words were displayed, each appearing on the screen in tiny font for just 1/300 of a second, too quickly for them to be properly seen by the human eye.
After each word, the test subjects were given two similar choices and asked to pick which one they had seen and how bright the word appeared.
When presented with options such as 'gateau' meaning cake and 'bateau' meaning boat, the students who hadn't had lunch generally chose the food-related word, and said they were brighter than their counterparts.
The hungry students were overall much better at correctly identifying food-related words that were displayed – which accounted for about a quarter of the words shown.
Dr Radel claims the findings proved that the hungry students were using instinctual perception before higher parts of the brain had a chance to change the messages coming from the eyes.
He said: 'This is something great to me, that humans can really perceive what they need or what they strive for, to know that our brain can really be at the disposal of our motives and needs. There is something inside us that selects information in the world to make life easier.