Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

Overview

Leading neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd embarks on a paradigm-shifting trip through the "human brain flavor system," laying the foundations for a new scientific field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that the sense of smell diminished during human evolution, Shepherd argues that this sense, which constitutes the main component of flavor, is far more powerful and essential than previously believed.

Shepherd begins Neurogastronomy with the mechanics of smell, ...

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Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

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Overview

Leading neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd embarks on a paradigm-shifting trip through the "human brain flavor system," laying the foundations for a new scientific field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that the sense of smell diminished during human evolution, Shepherd argues that this sense, which constitutes the main component of flavor, is far more powerful and essential than previously believed.

Shepherd begins Neurogastronomy with the mechanics of smell, particularly the way it stimulates the nose from the back of the mouth. As we eat, the brain conceptualizes smells as spatial patterns, and from these and the other senses it constructs the perception of flavor. Shepherd then considers the impact of the flavor system on contemporary social, behavioral, and medical issues. He analyzes flavor's engagement with the brain regions that control emotion, food preferences, and cravings, and he even devotes a section to food's role in drug addiction and, building on Marcel Proust's iconic tale of the madeleine, its ability to evoke deep memories.

Shepherd connects his research to trends in nutrition, dieting, and obesity, especially the challenges that many face in eating healthily. He concludes with human perceptions of smell and flavor and their relationship to the neural basis of consciousness. Everyone from casual diners and ardent foodies to wine critics, chefs, scholars, and researchers will delight in Shepherd's fascinating, scientific-gastronomic adventures.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Avery Gilbert

Neurogastronomy is a personal yet magisterial account of the new brain-based approach to flavor perception. Gordon M. Shepherd's panoramic view of science, culture, and behavior is that of a true pioneer of the chemical senses.

Herve This
Cooking? It is first love, then art, then technique. Chefs and food lovers alike can benefit from a better appreciation of the phenomena at play throughout the culinary process, from the field to the fork and beyond. This is why flavor is so important, and why Gordon M. Shepherd's well-named Neurogastronomy is such a welcome addition to the literature.
Nature - Chris Loss

Shepherd makes an excellent case for neurogastronomy as an important cross-disciplinary field that is likely to motivate a variety of imperatives for our health and well-being.

New York Review of Books - Israel Rosenfeld and Edward B. Ziff

Stimulating and informing.

Hervé This

Cooking? It is first love, then art, then technique. Chefs and food lovers alike can benefit from a better appreciation of the phenomena at play throughout the culinary process, from the field to the fork and beyond. This is why flavor is so important, and why Gordon M. Shepherd's well-named Neurogastronomy is such a welcome addition to the literature.

Yum.fi

A work that has the potential for breaking new ground and developing a whole new direction of study.

Nature
Shepherd makes an excellent case for neurogastronomy as an important cross-disciplinary field that is likely to motivate a variety of imperatives for our health and well-being.Nature

— Chris Loss

Choice

Although written for lay readers, this excellent summary of everything people currently know about flavor perception must be considered the latest and most valuable review of research on the chemical senses.

New York Review of Books
...stimulating and informing...

— Israel Rosenfeld and Edward B. Ziff

Choice

Although written for lay readers, this excellent summary of everything people currently know about flavor perception must be considered the latest and most valuable review of research on the chemical senses.

Library Journal
Most assume that we perceive flavor based on our sense of taste, but scientific studies have shown that taste is much more complicated than that. The flavors we enjoy are actually the result of the interaction of several of our senses, with retronasal smell (smell from the back of the mouth to the nasal passage) providing the primary input to our brain. In addition to smell, taste, touch, vision, and hearing, our ability to interpret flavors is also influenced by memory, emotion, and language. Shepherd (neurobiology, Yale Univ.) provides extensive detail on the complex neurological pathways that create flavor and the many ways the brain influences individual flavor preferences. A full understanding of flavor provides new insights that nutritionists may find useful in combating ongoing dietary problems including obesity and failure of the elderly to thrive. VERDICT Shepherd attempts to simplify the science, but the biochemistry and physiology can still be a tough read. Those who make the effort will be rewarded: they'll never look at eating the same way again.—Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231159104
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 12/2/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon M. Shepherd is professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine and former editor in chief of the Journal of Neuroscience. He has made fundamental contributions to the study of brain microcircuits, as summarized in his highly regarded edited reference work The Synaptic Organization of the Brain. His current research focuses on olfaction at the level of microcircuits and how they construct the spatial patterns of smell, which are essential to the perception of flavor.

Columbia University Press

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