Stop the presses: ice cream makes us happy
Scientists have found that a spoonful of the cold stuff lights up the same pleasure centre in the brain as winning money or listening to your favourite music.The scientists used a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine to watch blood flowing to activated brain areas when people swallowed ice cream.
Neuroscientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London scanned the brains of people eating vanilla ice cream. They found an immediate effect on parts of the brain known to activate when people enjoy themselves; these include the orbitofrontal cortex, the "processing" area at the front of the brain.
The research was carried out by Unilever, using ice cream made by Walls, which it owns. Don Darling of Unilever said: "This is the first time that we've been able to show that ice cream makes you happy. Just one spoonful lights up the happy zones of the brain in clinical trials."
Developed to investigate the effects of brain damage and disease, the scanners are being increasingly turned to non-medical uses.
Experts are gathering in Cardiff today to discuss how magnetic resonance imaging could investigate how the brain handles situations including disappointment and loneliness. The jokes just write themselves, don't they? I've already deleted one about the Guardian's "scoop" (groan).