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Open Access Book review

Book Review: ‘Neurogastronomy: how the brain creates flavor and why it matters’ by Gordon M. Shepherd

Charles Spence

Author Affiliations

Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Oxford University, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UD, UK

Flavour 2012, 1:21  doi:10.1186/2044-7248-1-21

Published: 1 November 2012

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

‘Neurogastronomy’, the title of Gordon Shepherd’s new book (Shepherd, [1]), refers to the study of the complex brain processes that give rise to the flavours that we all experience when eating or drinking. This term, which Shepherd apparently first coined back in 2006 in an article in Nature Insight (Shepherd, [2], p. 320), can be contextualized in terms of the ‘neuromania’ that has been sweeping through the cognitive neurosciences over the last few years. However, as Legrenzi and Umiltà [3] make abundantly clear in their critical (albeit pocket-sized) appraisal of the new ‘neuro-’ sciences, one should not necessarily believe that just because a research field has been christened by the pleonastic use of the ‘neuro’ prefix (see Legrenzi and Umiltà, [3], p. 9), that it necessarily means that we understand the underlying science, nor that what follows is necessarily all that new! As Raymond Tallis, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester noted, in a piece attacking A. S. Byatt’s neuroaesthetic reading of the poetry of John Donne, there is a lot of ‘Neuromythology’ about (Tallis, [4]; see also ‘The trouble with neuroaesthetics’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2008/jun/04/thetroublewithneuroaestheti webcite, downloaded on 15 August 2012). You have been warned.