Sound: The Forgotten Flavor Sense
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved. Sound is the forgotten flavor sense. While few people consider sound important, a growing body of empirical research collected over the last 70 years or so now shows that there are many ways in which what we hear can influence our taste and flavor expectations, and hence our experience of eating and drinking, not to mention our enjoyment. The sounds that are associated with our consumption of food and drink are very often desirable characteristics, think only of crunchy, crispy, crackly, creamy, and carbonated-arguably these are as much auditory as oral-somatosensory attributes. These are just some of the sensory attributes of food and drink that can be modulated by changing what the consumer, or diner, hears. The sounds of product packaging, be they the signature sounds of opening, or the functional sounds of opening or pouring, may help to convey desirable attributes and product expectations. Finally, the last decade or so has seen an explosion of interest in the influence of background noise, music, and specially designed soundscapes on the tasting experience. While loud background noise suppresses our ability to taste certain things (such as sweetness), it may enhance our sensitivity to others (such as crunchiness and umami). The music or soundscapes playing in the background when we choose, order, purchase, or consume food or drink have repeatedly been shown to bias our choices/consumption behavior. Our perception of the ethnicity of a dish or drink can also be enhanced by the presentation of appropriate music. Most exciting though is the recent growth of studies demonstrating that there are crossmodal correspondences between musical parameters such as pitch, timbre, and roughness that can be used to draw a consumer's attention toward a certain element in their tasting experience.