Functional and structural basis of the color-flavor incongruency effect in visual search

Jianping Huang, Fei Wang, Jie Sui, Xiaoang Wan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)
69 Downloads (Pure)


We conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study and a voxel-based morphometry (VBM) study to investigate the functional and structural basis of how visual search for flavor labels in packaging is influenced by the color of the packaging. The participants were cued by a flavor word before searching for a package with this flavor label. The behavioral results of both studies revealed that the participants were slower to find the target when its color was incongruent with the flavor label in terms of color-flavor associations than when it was congruent with the flavor label, which is indicative of a color-flavor incongruency effect in the reaction times. The fMRI results revealed that this behavioral effect was associated with enhanced activation in the right putamen. The VBM results further revealed a significant positive correlation between the magnitude of the behavioral effect and volume of gray matter in the right putamen. Taken together, these findings suggest that the color-flavor incongruency effect may be attributed to the violation of color expectation in the incongruent condition and that the putamen may be one of the important areas for processing events in violation of expectation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
Early online date21 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Color-flavor associations
  • Expectation
  • Incongruency
  • Packaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional and structural basis of the color-flavor incongruency effect in visual search'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this