Psychologists conducted a study on how memory influences our choices by offering various foods and using scans to track brain activity.
The influence of memory is mediated by increasing communication between the relevant brain areas. The neural and cognitive mechanism of our decision-making process had not been studied in depth until now.
"Our study builds a bridge between two central research fields of psychology, that is, memory and decision-making research," said Sebastian Gluth, lead author, University of Basel.
The team of psychologists asked 30 hungry young people to rate 48 snacks in order of preference and the snacks were presented on a computer screen in association with a particular location.
The subjects then went into a magnetic resonance image scanner and were asked to choose repeatedly between two snacks, for which only the location was shown.
They were thus forced to recall the snack associated with the location. The results showed that the subjects tend to prefer the snacks that they were able to recall better. Furthermore, they chose the snacks they could recall better even if they had rated them lower in the initial task and therefore considered them less attractive.
The research team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural mechanisms of memory-based decisions and developed a mathematical model to represent the decision-making process and the influence of memory.