Spatial memory is the cognitive process for remembering and recalling the location of objects in relation to yourself and other objects. Turns out, our spatial memory also evolved to more easily remember where chocolate brownies than cherry tomatoes. Makes sense to me. According to researchers at Wageningen University & Research, this is because our evolutionary ancestors needed to remember where high-calorie food could be found that could keep them alive.
"We're more likely to remember sweet things, which was a real plus for most of our evolutionary history," Purdue University cognitive psychology professor James Nairne, who was not involved in the research, commented to Scientific American. "But this is problematic in today's world…. We're still walking around with Stone Age brains."
From Scientific American:
In the study, researchers at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands observed 512 participants follow a fixed path through a room where either eight food samples or eight food-scented cotton pads were placed in different locations. When they arrived at a sample, the participants would taste the food or smell the cotton and rate how much they liked it. Four of the food samples were high-calorie, including brownies and potato chips, and the other four, including cherry tomatoes and apples, were low in calories—diet foods, you might call them.
After the taste test, the participants were asked to identify the location of each sample on a map of the room. They were nearly 30 percent more accurate at mapping the high-calorie samples versus the low-calorie ones, regardless of how much they liked those foods or odors. They were also 243 percent more accurate when presented with actual foods, as opposed to the food scents.