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Multimodal perception

Τhe idea that sound and music can affect various aspects of our everyday experiences is by no means novel. If you think about it, we commonly turn to music to regulate our mood accordingly during the day, to boost performance while exercising, to help us socialise at a party, etc. However, the concept that sound and music can be further used to influence our sensory experiences is novel indeed. Research has shown that no single sense is perceived independently from the rest. Instead, the human brain combines all the available sensory information when forming an overall experience, a phenomenon known as multimodal perception. The field of sensory science has already provided ample evidence regarding how taste and smell are influenced by concurrent sound exposure. You can have a look below if you are interested in more details about how sound and music may affect the flavour and aromas of wine, beer, chocolate, etc.

Multisensory experiences and coffee
McGurk Effect
The rubber hand illusion
Scientific publications

Auvray, M. & Spence, C. (2008). The multisensory perception of flavour. Consciousness & Cognition. 17, 1016–1031.

Bronner, K., Frieler, K., Bruhn, H., Hirt, R., & Piper, D. (2012). What is the sound of citrus? Research on the correspondences between the perception of sound and flavour. In Proceedings of the ICMPC–ESCOM 2012 joint conference (pp. 42-48)

Burzynska, J., Wang, Q. J., Spence, C., & Bastian, S. E. P. (2019). Taste the bass: low frequencies increase the perception of body and aromatic intensity in red wine. Multisensory research, 32, 429-454.

Crisinel, A. S., & Spence, C. (2012). A fruity note: crossmodal associations between odors and musical notes. Chemical Senses, 37, 151-158.

Crisinel, A. S., Cosser, S., King, S., Jones, R., Petrie, J., & Spence, C. (2012). A bittersweet symphony: systematically modulating the taste of food by changing the sonic properties of the soundtrack playing in the background. Food Quality and Preference, 24, 201-204.

Crisinel, A. S., Jacquier, C., Deroy, O., & Spence, C. (2013). Composing with cross-modal correspondences: Music and odors in concert. Chemosensory Perception, 6, 45–52.

Carvalho, F. R., Van Ee, R., Rychtarikova, M., Touhafi, A., Steenhaut, K., Persoone, D., & Spence, C. (2015). Using sound-taste correspondences to enhance the subjective value of tasting experiences. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 1309.

Carvalho, F. R., Velasco, C., van Ee, R., Leboeuf, Y., & Spence, C. (2016). Music influences hedonic and taste ratings in beer. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 636.

Carvalho, F. R., Wang, Q. J., van Ee, R., Persoone, D., & Spence, C. (2017). “Smooth operator”: Music modulates the perceived creaminess, sweetness, and bitterness of chocolate. Appetite, 108, 383-390.

Deroy, O., Crisinel, A. S., & Spence, C. (2013). Crossmodal correspondences between odors and contingent features: odors, musical notes, and geometrical shapes. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 20, 878-896.

Dubois, D. (2000). Categories as acts of meaning: The case of categories in olfaction and audition. Cognitive science quarterly, 1, 35-68.

Guetta, R., & Loui, P. (2017). When music is salty: The crossmodal associations between sound and taste. PLoS One, 12, e0173366.

Knöferle, K., & Spence, C. (2012). Crossmodal correspondences between sounds and tastes. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 19, 992-1006.

Lehrer A. (2007). Can wines be brawny?: Reflections on wine vocabulary. In Barry C. S., (ed.), Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine, (pp. 127–140). Signal Books, Oxford, 2007

Mesz, B., Trevisan, M. A., & Sigman, M. (2011). The taste of music. Perception, 40, 209-219.

Mesz, B., Sigman, M., & Trevisan, M. (2012). A composition algorithm based on crossmodal taste-music correspondences. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 71.

North, A. C. (2012). The effect of background music on the taste of wine. British Journal of Psychology, 103, 293-301.

Simner, J., Cuskley, C., & Kirby, S. (2010). What sound does that taste? Cross-modal mappings across gustation and audition. Perception, 39, 553-569.

Spence, C. (2011). Crossmodal correspondences: A tutorial review. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. 73, 971–995.

Spence, C. (2020). Wine psychology: basic & applied. Cognitive research: principles and implications, 5, 1-18.

Spence, C. (2020). Using ambient scent to enhance well-being in the multisensory built environment. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.

Spence, C. (2021). Sonic Seasoning and Other Multisensory Influences on the Coffee Drinking Experience. Frontiers in Computer Science, 3, 21.

Spence, C., & Wang, Q. J. (2015a). Wine and music (I): on the crossmodal matching of wine and music. Flavour, 4, 1-14.

Spence, C., & Wang, Q. J. (2015b). Wine and music (II): can you taste the music? Modulating the experience of wine through music and sound. Flavour, 4, 1-14.

Spence, C., & Wang, Q. J. (2015c). Wine and music (III): so what if music influences the taste of the wine?. Flavour, 4, 1-15.

Wang, Q., & Spence, C. (2015). Assessing the effect of musical congruency on wine tasting in a live performance setting. i-Perception, 6(3), 2041669515593027.

Wang, Q. J., & Spence, C. (2016). ‘Striking a sour note’: assessing the influence of consonant and dissonant music on taste perception. Multisensory Research, 29, 195-208.

Wang, Q., & Spence, C. (2018). Assessing the influence of music on wine perception among wine professionals. Food science & nutrition, 6, 295-301.