Neuroscientists have shown that we are lied to by our own brains. Take wine. Taste tests are commonly undertaken ”blind”, that is, the tasters are either blindfolded or the bottle is wrapped in a brown paper bag. This practice recognises our propensity to judge a drop by its cover. But why do we do it?Are we really all such shallow snobs?
In search of an answer, the experts wired up the brains of a bunch of human guinea pigs. They were offered a range of five wines that they were told cost $5, $10, $25, $45 and $90. The sting was that the $10 and $90 bottles were identical, as were the $5 and $45 wines. The tasters said they liked the $90 bottle much better than the (identical) $10 one and preferred the $45 plonk over the $5 one.
The researchers’ monitoring equipment reported more activity in the relevant part of the brain when the subjects drank the more expensive versions of the same wine. They actually were enjoying it more.