Gadget that tricks brain into thinking a plain cookie is a chocolate cookie

By Motoko Kakubayashi 22/10/2010

A visitor gives MetaCookie+ a go
A visitor gives MetaCookie+ a go

Being able to transform a simple cookie into chocolate, strawberries, or even mushrooms is not magic, it’s science according to Tokyo University researchers who showcased their latest invention at a technology event in Japan last week.

The MetaCookie+ is a virtual tasting headgear set where multiple hoses send the smell of a particular food to the wearer’s nose while the image of the desired food appears in the hands of the wearer on a TV screen.  In doing so, scientists have found they can trick the human brain into thinking that what the wearer sees and smells must be real, and ultimately changes the taste of the food being eaten.

To date, Tokyo University professor Michitaka Hirose and lecturer Tomohiro Tanikawa’s research team have been able to program in seven different foods into MetaCookie+.  They have been reported to have said they hope to improve the gadget enough so it can be used by hospital patients who are put on strict diets that often involve plain food.

Visitors at Tokyo’s Digital Content Expo 2010 last week were able give the gadget a go, and more than 80 per cent of users said the taste of their food had changed.

* Credits to the Science Media Centre of Japan.

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