The researchers observed 48 participants sampling a variety of tomato juices with varying flavor profiles that ranged from sweet, bitter to salty. As the participants tasted the juices, the researchers turned up the noise levels and then had the participants rate the intensity of each of the juices’ flavors.
The team found that as noise levels increased, it became more difficult for the participants to be able to detect sweetness. Savory flavors, also called “umami,” were still able to be detected by the participants.
Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science at Cornell shared: “Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced. The multi-sensory properties of the environment where we consume our food can alter our perception of the foods we eat.”
Dando added: “The multi-sensory nature of what we consider ‘flavor’ is undoubtedly underpinned by complex central and peripheral interactions. Our results characterize a novel sensory interaction, with intriguing implications for the effect of the environment in which we consume food.”
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