Food and Brain

Anna Hackett

Food Blog

We all know the feeling, absolutely craving that gooey chocolate cake, that cheesy pizza, or that crisp salad even. You also probably know the feeling of seeing an advertisement for a restaurant with sizzling steak, steaming fries, and creamy ice cream. It turns out, marketing agents have a better idea as to what they’re doing than we may assume. You may already be somewhat familiar with the process of rewards and punishments in the brain. A pathway known as the mesolimbic dopamine pathway is the principle area of the brain associated with this phenomenon. Our brains are trained to learn what stimuli in the environment or actions we do lead to rewards, or good feelings. Food is no exception to this mechanism and we can thank dopamine for how we feel. We know that eating brings us happiness; we as well as our brains consider it a reward when we eat, thus dopamine is released. So, seeing food advertisements where the food is displayed as if it were right in front of you causes our brains to signal to us that we want what we are seeing and we want to complete this new goal to release dopamine. We associate seeing the food with eating and thus being happy. Advertising agencies are no fool to this process and thus know, the more they show you and the more frequently you’re exposed to their commercials, the more you’ll want their food. This same spark of craving can come from scrolling through social media. So many people, if you’re like me, follow food Instagram accounts or blogs that are dedicated to showing the delicious, mouth watering, food finds the poster has managed to get their hands on somewhere in the world. It may seem harmless scrolling though these accounts, but you’re actually causing your body to get feelings of hunger without realizing it. You may have noticed that after a few scrolls through one of these pages you start feeling like you’re ready for a snack. Whether or not you indulge in these feelings is an entirely other thing, but only those with willpowers stronger than mine will be able to resist these new cravings. So, next time you’re scrolling though one of these accounts, because realistically this post won’t make you stop, nor should it, try and see if you’re starting to get those munchies feelings you brain is trying to induce.


Dooley, Roger. “Food Ads: How Brains Respond.” Neuromarketing, 29 Sept. 2014,

Banks, Amy. “The Dopamine Reward System: Friend or Foe?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 12 July 2015,

Bergland, Christopher. “The Neurochemicals of Happiness.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 29 Nov. 2012,

Romm, Cari. “What ‘Food Porn’ Does to the Brain.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 20 Apr. 2015,

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