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Sense of taste affected by virtual surroundings

Cheese tasted more pungent in a virtual cow barn setting than on a park bench or in a sensory booth


Researchers have examined the effect of different virtual reality settings on an individual’s sense of taste.

In research published in Journal of Food ScienceCornell University scientists report that the environment someone eats in can “spill over” into their perception of the food.

“When we eat, we perceive not just the taste and aroma of foods, but also their visual, auditory, and tactile properties, as well as sensory input from our surroundings,” the authors explained.

The researchers asked 50 panellists to eat three identical samples of blue cheese while wearing a virtual reality headset that displayed three different settings.

The participants were then asked to rate the pungency of the sample and its saltiness.

The results illustrated that pungency ratings were significantly higher in the barn setting than on a park bench or in a sensory booth, while there was no statistical difference in perceptions of saltiness.