The Phoenix

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Woman's Brain On Food

A recent study in the UK by Dr. Rudolf Uher of the King's College London Institute of Psychiatry found a significant difference in how men and women react to images of food. Dr. Uher and his collegues studied their subjects' brain reactions using MRI scanning, and they noted a measurable difference between men and women - especially in the occipitotemporal cortex. This region of the brain is responsible for the abstract processing of visual images.

Dr. Uher showed men and women subjects images of food and non-food pictures. They had the participants go through pictures twice - once after fasting after 24 hours and another time after eating as usual.

It didn't matter whether the subjects fasted or not - the women's brains showed a much stronger reaction to the images of food than the men. Both groups obviously had stronger reactions after fasting, but the temporal cortex of women fired up like fireworks on the 4th of July when they viewed pictures of food. Interestingly, when showed non-food images, there was no marked difference between men and women.

So what does this mean? It probably just illustrates that men and women process the idea and images of food very differently. Doctors hope this is a first step towards figuring out why women are far more succeptible to eating disorders than men.

I took the study a step further and tried to figure out what will make a man's occipitotemporal cortex explode with activity. Unfortunately, I don't have it in the budget to scan people's brains with an MRI machine, so I simply observed my subjects' behavior. In conclusion, the following images invoked a strong emotionally response from the men I studied, as compared to the women I interviewed:
Men like ones. One male subject even said..."Wow."

This one's a no-brainer. Half of the guys' jaws dropped. Interestly, my Victoria's Secret catalog disappeared after my study.

Men and toilets. It truly is a man's throne. This one has a luxurious seat, computer, telephone, and TV in the wall.

And finally...
I actually saw three men's thumbs jerk involuntarily. What is it about men and remote controls? I believe it's ingrained in our genes, but that's for another post.


Blogger Keshi said...

I guess it's why women r mostly the best cooks ever :)


5/01/2006 1:36 AM  
Blogger DaBich said...

I can back up your study on men and fast cars. My better half has a 1984 Mustang GT 5.0, is all souped up, and does it go vvvaaarooooommmm! Another car pulls up beside him, the race is on! lol

5/01/2006 3:34 AM  
Blogger Curare_Z said... It's probably not unusual for women to associate food with particular emotions. Maybe that's why the brain lights up so much. At least, I know I'm that way.

5/01/2006 5:55 AM  
Blogger Yawn said...

I've also seen research that shows though women may say they are disgusted by pornography, when tested they actually showed signs of arousal. So are they disgustd by porn, or their own reaction to it?

5/01/2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...


I have a theory on that actually, you'll never guess but it has an evolutionary twist.

A woman can actually control her fertility cycles using food. A low percentage of body fat (when we were hunters/gatherers) would not allow a woman to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy sucessfully. Even in current nomadic societies the birth rate is about 4 years between children because of sporadic fasting and breastfeeding.

If there is food in abundance, women are more likely to continue to graze because there may be a chance now, or in the near future that she would be pregnant or nursing and would need the additional fat stores. Women are more likely to be overweight than men. Seeing as the drive in every species is to procreate....we can all say we eat to have babies!

5/01/2006 10:09 AM  
Blogger ozymandiaz said...

And they say the way to a MAN'S heart is thru his stomach. I guess now the truth is reaveled, it is the way to a WOMAN'S heart. The way to a man's heart is thru his testosterone.

5/01/2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Thank God The Peanut King doesn't read your blog. After viewing those last four images you posted, his brain would explode.


5/01/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I don't know why women react to the food but I surely believe it. Men think of sex. I think of food.

5/01/2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Yes, I have a real issue with the remote control. I am trying to work on it though. Basically, if I don't know where it is when I'm sitting in front of the tv - I freak out. Never been a car guy, though.

5/01/2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Oddly enough, there is not a single remote in my house. For at least 3 years now I've been without one, shockingly, when the last one 'mysteriously' disappeared, I gave up and refused to buy another one.

5/01/2006 11:44 AM  
Blogger Perplexio said...

Phoenix: With the remote I actually let my wife use it. A lot of the stuff she likes, I also like, but a lot of the stuff I like she doesn't. So rather than listen to her complain about what I choose to watch I just give her the remote and stick around for the ride.

I'm not a huge fan of TV-- We have our shows we both like and watch those together. I expect I may be banished from the male gender for admitting that I relinquish the remote to my wife, but I'll deal.

5/01/2006 12:13 PM  
Blogger Tai said...


5/01/2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger grrrbear said...

Imagine the results you'd get if you tried composite pictures. Take that woman and sit her in that car, offering the viewer the remote control!

[shivers with giddy excitement]

We must make sure the terrorists don't learn about this...

5/01/2006 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Tasa said...

mmm food. Is that why when me or my mom go food shopping we buy tons of food wedont need, while my dad gets only what is on the list? This could also be why womens magazines often feature recepies, while men's just feature women in bikinis.... hmmmm

5/01/2006 3:12 PM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

I even have a remote for my air conditioner. Sitting in my chair with all the power in the universe right there at my fingertips.

5/01/2006 3:52 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I was thinking the same thing as I read this. If I were to see a nude pic of a gorgeous lady or a really fabulous car, my visual imaging cortex thingy would not do fireworks like it would if you show me that lava chocolate dessert from Chili's.
I actually think that my brain would go more haywire over pics of a dessert than over pics of gorgeous men. It's a wonder I'm not huge fat.
I do think my brain would show some fireworks over the images of a TV remote; I'm a control freak. :)

5/01/2006 4:34 PM  
Anonymous amber said...

My husband has used this one line to explain his needs for years...

"i'd like a beer, and i'd like to see something naked"

He still swears he speaks for all "man"kind when he states this.

This study just goes to prove he isn't far off the truth.


5/01/2006 4:50 PM  
Blogger kim said...

*snicker* Excellent post. I wonder if they broke food down into subgroups - like chocolate. Mmmm...

5/01/2006 9:40 PM  
Blogger PDD said...

Interesting. The only thing I can tie with mens fascination with the remote control... the same preasure is applied to their prostate glands?? I don't know, but sure am looking forward to that post.

5/01/2006 11:53 PM  
Blogger Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

That remote looks sooo hot.

5/02/2006 7:24 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

The research you do on behalf of humankind....thank you. That was so necessary.

5/02/2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger BrianAlt said...

I can say that the lingerie picture got my attention.

5/02/2006 10:47 AM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

So would a chocolate-covered Victoria's Secret model provide equal appeal??

-- david

5/02/2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger KC said...

Wow! I never realized that just looking at photos of food would make me fat. That's it! It's not the fact that I over-eat, am lazy, not excercise, etc. It's just that I look at food and immediately must have some. Dang. I'll never lose any weight at this rate.

5/02/2006 11:01 AM  
Blogger Grafs said...

Wow I didn't know we were so into food. I think it's a chore most of the time.

5/02/2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger Sar said...

Hubby calls the "big" stall at the office's restroom the Cadillac room. It all makes sense now.

5/02/2006 6:48 PM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

I think you've really hit upon something here. The throne, in particular.

5/02/2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

an alternative conclusion would be that the male inhabitants of London are simply brain dead

5/02/2006 10:37 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

My throne, oh how I love my throne!

5/02/2006 11:03 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...


I don't know, that car got me pretty hot!

5/03/2006 12:12 AM  
Blogger Phats said...

HAHA That's great, is that your personal throne?

I know I love my remote, could care less about my car and toilet. The woman well duh no brainer there

5/03/2006 1:19 AM  
Anonymous delmer said...

If the budget money ever comes available, you should run the test with a remote down the model's stocking to see what kind of result you'd get.

Would men see a hard-to-get-to remote? A model bringing them a remote? Would they see the remote at all? Maybe this test would best be run with the men divided into groups by age.

5/03/2006 8:07 AM  
Blogger vani said...

yeah, i'm sure if you show any man a pic of a remote control or a victoria's secret catalogue, their brains too would be going off like fireworks. but which brains i wonder...the brain up there, or DOWN there? LOL

5/03/2006 8:16 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Men and the throne thing is really a mystery to me. The car, the hot Victoria model, and even the remote control make sense to me.

The toilet?

That needs further investigation for sure. I know guys that will hold in their poop running around like crazy looking for reading material.

I mean, they got the turtle head poke going on and they're searching for anything - even a Goodhousekeeping magazine - to read.

5/03/2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Each time I check back by here and see that it's the food post, I get an urge to have a Twinkie.
Please post again soon, before my backside expands.

An urgent NEED for reading material while on the toilet? I'd say those guys need more fiber in their diet.

5/03/2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

"women's brains showed a much stronger reaction to the images of food than the men"... far as i know from all my 'experiences with men' {clears throat} ... food is NOT what's on their minds, er, ah, unless it's food *with* sex... if ya know what i mean, catch my drift, yada, yada, yada...


5/03/2006 1:14 PM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

um Phoenix?

you have your own subscription to Victoria's Secrets?

5/03/2006 3:14 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Um...I....I do get the catalog, but I do so only to read the articles.

5/03/2006 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yeah, the articles. they have the BEST articles.

*rolls eyes*

(kyahgirl-blogger login is acting up again)

5/03/2006 5:48 PM  
Blogger O Ceallaigh said...

Jennifer, you nailed it. I was once told, when we lived in New Zealand, that European standards of beauty were not to be applied to the New Zealand Polynesians (the Maori). Rotundness was prized in Maori women, I learned - it proved that their men were good getters of grub. Not a trivial matter in a land where, before the coming of Captain Cook, all meat was on the wing (no native New Zealand mammals), and there were no native starchy vegetables (the Maori imported the sweet potato).

Ever hear of the preying (oops, sorry, prAying) mantis insect? When it comes time to copulate, the male is well advised to keep his head. Literally. Give the Queen half a chance, and it's "Off with his head", Alice! Sex and Brains Night - followed by the rest of him. Why? You're protein, buster! Same thing happens in a lot of other insects, and spiders.

I'm not much on Victoria's Secret. Especially after one close to me worked there. Memo to Customers: It's Not The Underwear! Did see my share of the pictures, though. Posted on the door of a girl's dorm room. Oops. (No. You'll just have to imagine.)

5/03/2006 8:27 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Culturally, there are variations of what is considered ideal body image/weight for women.

Interestingly, the ideal waist/hip ratio preference is identical, however. So no matter where you go, the ideal is the same, when related to waist/hip ratios.

Fascinating stuff.

Sorry everyone for not putting up a new post. I have been working like crazy.

5/03/2006 8:57 PM  
Blogger jay lassiter said...

gay men and straight men are a lot more alike than we admit!
(hilarious-thanks for making me grin this morning. I got some shitty news and have been down in the dumps and this post make me smirk out loud. so thanks)

5/04/2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger DaBich said...

We're patient, don't sweat it ;)

5/04/2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Sorry to see you're down, Jay. I hope things look up for you very soon.

Thanks dabich!

5/04/2006 7:02 AM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

This was hilarious!

5/04/2006 2:35 PM  

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Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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