Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Bread is consumed widely in the western world in many forms, the most common being toasts which form the main stay of a break fast. The ubiquitous sandwich is also based on bread slices though they are not generally toasted. Of course there are some types of toasted sandwich with different filling and sandwich toaster is a standard fixture in most kitchens. Early habits developed amongst children are carried forward through out life unless there are cataclysmic events that make bread unavailable for some reasons. According to a new finding the affinity for toast is developed at early childhood within the family environment because the sense of smell is involuntarily registered in the sub-conscious mind that enables the child to keep the memory for a long time.

"By imaging people's brains while they're exposed to certain smells, in this case toast cooking, you can learn about what part of the brain is used to register, store and process the sensation," he said. "While visual and sound sensations are processed by the conscious mind, and are continually being re-evaluated, smells are transmitted directly to the subconscious, where long-term memory is stored." Prof Jacobs' research suggested the preference for toast and its smell was much stronger in people who had it for breakfast as a child. In an almost Pavlovian reaction, the nature of the smell seems to be largely irrelevant, with the associations it holds to events from our past playing a much more significant role. He said: "We can form these associations with smells at any age. All that's required is a consistent smell, combined with an event powerful enough to pin a given emotion to that particular set of chemicals. "Children's minds are much more plastic, in that the neural pathways are constantly developing. Therefore it's not really surprising to find that people exposed to toast as children have a much stronger affinity for the smell in later life.

One wonders whether such a proposition holds good for all foods to which a child is exposed during its early stages of development. How about the staples? It is known that those consuming rice never like wheat or other grains s a regular food while wheat eaters do not appreciate rice except for occasional consumption. Similarly those used to coarse grains like Ragi, Bajra etc invariably prefer these grains over others because they were brought up on these foods. How about the extreme smell sensations emanated from Garlic,Durian, Jackfruit etc which are either liked very much or spurned as rotten smell by those liking them? Probably same explanation may hold good for the reaction to these extreme smells. The finding is indeed beneficial to young mothers who have the unenviable task of bringing up healthy kids and avoiding foods which are not healthy but good in smelling and perseverance at this stage will pay off in the long run.


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