When we eat something, which senses are stimulated and how do our brains process that information? Human Nutrition wants to use an MRI scanner to find out how people really experience food.
Friesland Campina is interested in food research using the MRI scanner, says Carine Ponne, the second Researcher's Night speaker. ‘At present, we try to determine the demand for new products mainly through questionnaires and interviews but there is a gap between what people say and what they do. We hope to use MRI research as a way of getting closer to consumers' implicit motivations as the brain scanner doesn't give socially acceptable answers.'
She also points to the limitations of this method. ‘For instance, the test situation in a scanner - experimental subjects are lying and hardly able to move their heads - is not representative of a real life situation. Scanners are also expensive and so not suitable for large groups of people.' In the discussion that follows the talks, Jager acknowledges the MRI scanner's limitations. ‘The idea is not to send hundreds of people through the scanner whenever you want to see whether a new product is catching on. We should use the scanner to generate knowledge that has broad relevance in nutrition research.'