Decision muscles? How choosing more food (despite incentives to eat less) is associated with the brain's cortical thickness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Can the mind be understood as a muscle? Both embodiment theorists and cognitive scientists have proposed that the architecture of the mind is flexible and adaptable. This proposition implies that cognitions can be shaped through repeated bodily actions and modal simulations, making them physically embodied at the brain level. To explore this notion, a measure of cortical thickness is extracted from anatomical brain scans to test whether cortical thickness is correlated with choice (here, in the domain of fast food). Results revealed that consumers' large-sized fast-food choices are significantly correlated with the cortical thickness of structures in the prefrontal cortex and that this association holds even for cases in which the participants were offered a possible monetary incentive to choose a smaller-sized portion. Body mass index, age, and sex were not correlated with cortical thickness or portion choice in the present data set. In summary, this work provides preliminary insights into the possible existence of a malleable, muscle-like brain, which would support the idea that cognitions are grounded in a plastic sensory system and subject to repeated bodily actions and modal simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Fingerprint

Fast Foods
Motivation
Food
Muscles
Cognition
Brain
Prefrontal Cortex
Plastics
Body Mass Index
Incentives
Simulation
Fast food
Datasets
Food choice
Embodiment
Monetary incentives
Body mass index

Keywords

  • Anatomical brain scans
  • Consumer neuroscience
  • Cortical thickness
  • Embodied cognition
  • Modal simulation of food choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

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abstract = "Can the mind be understood as a muscle? Both embodiment theorists and cognitive scientists have proposed that the architecture of the mind is flexible and adaptable. This proposition implies that cognitions can be shaped through repeated bodily actions and modal simulations, making them physically embodied at the brain level. To explore this notion, a measure of cortical thickness is extracted from anatomical brain scans to test whether cortical thickness is correlated with choice (here, in the domain of fast food). Results revealed that consumers' large-sized fast-food choices are significantly correlated with the cortical thickness of structures in the prefrontal cortex and that this association holds even for cases in which the participants were offered a possible monetary incentive to choose a smaller-sized portion. Body mass index, age, and sex were not correlated with cortical thickness or portion choice in the present data set. In summary, this work provides preliminary insights into the possible existence of a malleable, muscle-like brain, which would support the idea that cognitions are grounded in a plastic sensory system and subject to repeated bodily actions and modal simulations.",
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