Recently, a story has been going around claiming that your brain is more engaged when drinking a glass of wine in comparison to solving a math problem. This comparison comes from an interview by NPR with Gordon Shepherd where they ask what listening to music, striking a baseball, and doing math have in common. The unexpected answer, of course, is that they appear to not engage gray matter in the same way as drinking a glass of wine.
Shepherd is a professor of neuroscience at the Yale School of Medicine and he was also the editor in chief of the Journal of Neuroscience. His new book, Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine, discusses the topic at length and gives the idea a much fuller context. Otherwise, it is a gross oversimplification and not exactly accurate.
In essence, the book explains that the activity is not from the simple act of drinking but all the different areas of the brain that are triggered when it comes to the act. Shepherd explains that there is a, “tremendous range of sensory, motor and central brain systems involved in a wine tasting”. It begins activating gray matter from the moment you see the wine bottle to the smell of it to moving your mouth muscles until taste and even after.
A neuroscientist with the Tagus Scientific Consulting, Toshal Patel, explains that the different sensory receptors project different sensory perceptions for every sense. Thus, it is no surprise then that wine engages more of the senses than a math problem; which is likely to focus all engagement on a specific area of the brain. However, the data used for the book has not yet been published to a peer review journal; meaning that a lot more analysis must be done to elaborate on the different ideas and principles raised in the book.