A recent study of 23 children (8-14 yrs) correlated functional MRI results with watching commercials.
Key finding: The ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a reward valuation brain region, showed increased activity during food choices after watching food commercials compared with after watching nonfood commercials.
Author’s conclusion: Overall, our results suggest watching food commercials before making food choices may bias children’s decisions based solely on taste, and that food marketing may systematically alter the psychological and neurobiologic mechanisms of children’s food decisions.
My take: When is the last time you saw a commercial for broccoli? While food companies may not fully understand how their marketing affects kids’ brains, I’m certain they understand how it affects their bottom line.