Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

by Gordon M. Shepherd
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Gordon M. Shepherd, a leading neuroscientist at Yale University, embarks on an eye-opening trip through the human brain's "flavor system," establishing the parameters of a new field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that humans' sense of smell diminished as they made the leap from primate to human, Shepherd contends this sense, the main element of flavor, is

Overview

Gordon M. Shepherd, a leading neuroscientist at Yale University, embarks on an eye-opening trip through the human brain's "flavor system," establishing the parameters of a new field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that humans' sense of smell diminished as they made the leap from primate to human, Shepherd contends this sense, the main element of flavor, is far more powerful and important than we think.

Shepherd begins with the mechanics of smell, the way it stimulates the nose as it hits the back of the mouth. From the food we eat, the brain represents smells as spatial patterns, and out of these, it constructs flavor. He then considers the effect of the flavor system on many contemporary social, behavioral, and medical issues. He analyzes flavor's engagement with the brain regions controlling emotion, food preferences, and cravings, and he even devotes a section to food's role in drug addiction and, building on Proust's iconic tale of the madeleine, its ability to evoke deep memories. Shepherd discusses the link between his research and trends in nutrition, dieting, and obesity, particularly the challenge to eat healthy. He concludes with human perceptions of smell and flavor and their insight into the neural basis of consciousness. Everyone from casual diners and amateur foodies to wine critics, chefs, scholars, and researchers will be thrilled by Shepherd's scientific-gastronomic adventures.

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231530316
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
12/20/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
628,394
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Richard Wrangham
Neurogastronomy is a path-breaking account of flavor from how we perceive it to how it affects society. Gordon M. Shepherd's explanation of our food preferences is a tour of the intellectual senses and a model of brain science.

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >