Neurophysiological responses during cooking food associated with different emotions

A.-M. Brouwer*, M.A. Hogervorst, M. Grootjen, J.B.F. van Erp, E.H. Zandstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Neurophysiological correlates of affective experience could potentially provide continuous information about a person's experience when cooking and tasting food, without explicitly verbalizing this. Such measures would be helpful to understand people's implicit food preferences and choices. This study examined for the first time the relation between neurophysiological variables and affective experiences under real cooking and tasting circumstances, using ingredients that were a priori expected to evoke different affective reactions. 41 participants cooked and tasted two stir-fry dishes in random order following an identical, strictly timed protocol. Once the main ingredient was chicken and the other time mealworms. EEG, ECG and skin potential were recorded continuously. Participants scored subjective valence and arousal after each cooking and tasting session. Frontal EEG alpha asymmetry showed the expected effect throughout the whole cooking and tasting session, consistent with ‘approach’ motivation for chicken and ‘avoidance’ for mealworms. Skin potential effects differed between cooking intervals but were in the expected direction. ECG variables showed an interaction with order of cooking the different dishes. Based on EEG alpha asymmetry, ECG and skin potential variables, we can estimate with 82% accuracy whether a single participant is preparing a dish with mealworms or with chicken. Our study provides evidence that it is possible to estimate experienced emotion during real-life cooking and tasting. We argue that it is important to consider that different neurophysiological and subjective measures reflect different underlying affective processes, to map them out more precisely, and to take advantage of these differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-316
Number of pages10
JournalFood quality and preference
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Brain
  • Cooking
  • ECG
  • EEG
  • Electrodermal
  • Emotion
  • Food preparation
  • Physiology
  • n/a OA procedure


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