Multisensory flavor perception: A cognitive neuroscience perspective
© 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. While flavor perception may well be one of the most multisensory of our everyday experiences, researchers interested in multisensory perception have, until very recently at least, tended to stay away from the chemical senses. That said, a growing body of cognitive neuroscience research is now helping scientists to gain a better handle on the extent to which the rules of crossmodal interaction and multisensory integration documented for the spatial senses of vision, hearing, and touch are similar to/different from those used to integrate gustatory, olfactory, and trigeminal cues in the case of multisensory flavor perception. What we see, hear, and feel (both inside the oral cavity and elsewhere) influences what we taste, not to mention how much we enjoy the ensuing flavor experience. What we taste can be thought of as the sensory-discriminative and how much we enjoy as the hedonic response to food, respectively. That said, researchers disagree as to whether the sight, feel, and sound of food should be considered as constitutive of flavor perception or else merely as modulatory factors. In recent years, neuroimaging studies have started to identify some of the core neural circuits involved in the processing of food stimuli and controlling our responses to them (i.e., our feeding behavior). Nevertheless, the key point to note is that researchers have started to gain a much better understanding of multisensory integration as far as the flavor senses are concerned, and such insights are now starting to influence new food product development.