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The sound of flavor: A review of the research

Ig Nobel Prize winner Charles Spence, of Oxford University, has published a new study that reviews much of the research about the flavor of food. The study is:

Eating with our ears: assessing the importance of the sounds of consumption on our perception and enjoyment of multisensory flavour experiences,” Charles Spence, Flavour, vol. 4, no. 3, 2015. Spence writes:

“Sound is the forgotten flavour sense. You can tell a lot about the texture of a food—think crispy, crunchy, and crackly—from the mastication sounds heard while biting and chewing. The latest techniques from the field of cognitive neuroscience are revolutionizing our understanding of just how important what we hear is to our experience and enjoyment of food and drink. A growing body of research now shows that by synchronizing eating sounds with the act of consumption, one can change a person’s experience of what they think that they are eating.”

The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition was awarded to Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.

The prize honored the work documented in the study “The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips,” Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence, Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 19, October 2004,  pp. 347-63. The photo shown here depicts how the research was performed.

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