You’ve heard the phrase: His eyes are bigger than his stomach? French researchers have found there is more science than whimsy to that expression.
A new study shows hungry people see food-related words more clearly than those who've just had a meal.
Rémi Radel of University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, based his findings on experiments involving 42 students – half of whom had just eaten lunch and the other half hadn’t eaten in three or four hours.
The students were shown 80 words flashed on a computer screen – for a period of about 1/300th of a second each. By design, the words appeared too briefly for the students to really read them. After each word, the students were then asked how bright it appeared and whether it was a food-related item (such as “cake”) or not (like “boat”).
Researchers found hungry people saw the food-related words as brighter and were better at identifying them than those who’d just eaten lunch. Because the word appeared too quickly for them to be reliably seen, Radel said it suggests the difference is due to a person’s perception.
"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," Radel said. "There is something inside us that selects information in the world to make life easier."