Associate Professor of Marketing
Open Access Article;
Informational cues such as the price of a wine can trigger expectations about its taste quality and thereby modulate the sensory experience on a reported and neural level. Yet it is unclear how the brain translates such expectations into sensory pleasantness.The authors used multilevel mediation analysis of neural and behavioral data obtained in participants who tasted identical wines cued with different prices. They found that the brain’s valuation system (BVS) in concert with the anterior prefrontal cortex explained the effect of price cues on taste pleasantness ratings.The sensitivity of the BVS to rewards outside the taste domain moderated the strength of these effects. Moreover, brain mediators of price cue effects overlapped with brain regions previously found to be involved in placebo analgesia.These findings provide novel evidence for the fundamental role that neural pathways linked to motivation and effective regulation play for the effect of informational cues on sensory experiences.