All in the cortex

"My DNA made me do it"
The medial orbitofrontal cortex has given us much to think about recently. So far as I understand, which is not very far, the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) helps to explain why the more expensive wine is, the better it tastes. In an era of secular Calvinism, all of human life is predetermined, predestined and biologically fated. Not “the devil made me do it,” but “my DNA made me do it”; not “I sinned” but “something in my cell structure committed my body to it.”

Cal Tech professor Antonio Rangel and colleagues found that “prices, by themselves, affect activity in an area of the brain that is thought to encode the experienced pleasantness of an experience.” While Rangel’s drinkers sipped wine, his happy assistants observed on a functional MRI scan (fMRI) that the “neural encoding of the quality of an experience is actually modulated by a variable such as price.” We can’t rail at conspicuous consumption and other capitalist sins. It’s all in the cortex.

 

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