Fake sounds of chewing influence taste of food, study concludes

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Providing altered auditory feedback is a potentially useful technique for helping people experience varied food textures.©iStock/Sanjagrujic
Providing altered auditory feedback is a potentially useful technique for helping people experience varied food textures.©iStock/Sanjagrujic

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A ‘crunchy’ sound replicated via a device could influence food texture perception, even if the associated crunchy feeling in the mouth is absent.

When the crunchy sound accompanied a food subjects rated the foods as rougher and consisting of a greater number of ingredients. Satisfaction and pleasantness of the food were also rated higher.

The ability to influence an individual’s perception of an otherwise, less pleasant tasting food, has positive implications for those who have to follow a strict diet. These include the elderly and those physically unable to the make the chewing motion.

These individuals are often restricted to unpleasant diets of very soft or liquid food regimens, leading to a poor appetite and in some cases depression.

Sound study

Elderly eating
The elderly are an example of a group that could benefit from the study's findings.©iStock

The study enrolled 30 healthy adults in to two groups - with and without the artificial chewing sound, which was made by an electromyogram (EMG). Subjects then evaluated the taste, texture and feelings aroused by the five kinds of nursing care foods using two questionnaires.

“The outcomes observed seemed not to be affected by the perception of an unnatural combination between the chewing sound and food,” ​the study found.

“In addition, it may be important to consider the contribution of sound/food congruence to psychological effects such as satisfaction and pleasantness.”

The research team, from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan referred back to an earlier study​ in which they enrolled healthy elderly participants.

They found that perceived chewiness and the actual eating experience were influenced by altered auditory feedback.

“The clarity of the EMG signal is considered to depend on the degree to which eating functions have declined,“​ commented the researchers. “If participants cannot execute masticatory jaw movement, it might be difficult to apply this method.”

Source: Physiology and Behaviour

Published online ahead of print, doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.10.001

“The effect of a crunchy pseudo-chewing sound on perceived texture of softened foods.”

Authors: Hiroshi Endo, Shuichi Ino, Waka Fujisaki

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1 comment

Eating with ears

Posted by Jo Smewing - Stable Micro Systems,

It’s good to see research showing the important part sound plays in the eating experience. A lot of food across a range of categories has its own unique sound, such as the classic crunch of popcorn or the crack of chocolate. Being able to understand and measure these sounds plays an important part in helping to formulate products perfectly, and fine tuning sound in product development is a key way of increasing the consumer appeal of a food product

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