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Neurosci Lett. 2007 Jan 3;411(1):6-10. Epub 2006 Nov 15.

Investigations on multimodal sensory integration: texture, taste, and ortho- and retronasal olfactory stimuli in concert.

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Wageningen Centre of food Science, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Perceptual interactions between odour and oral texture were explored in a study in which a cream odour was presented ortho- or retronasally at well-defined moments whilst milk-like foods with different viscosities, produced by adding a thickener, were present in the mouth. Gaseous (odour) and liquid (texture) pulses were presented using a specially-developed computer-controlled system of air-dilution olfactometry and pumps. Odour pulses, lasting 2 s, were presented either during a 3-s period in which a liquid filled the oral cavity, during a 3-s period in which the liquid was manipulated orally or during the swallowing of the liquid. Subjects rated the intensity of overall flavour, thickness and creaminess. Perceived flavour intensity was reduced with increasing viscosity of the liquid, irrespective of whether or not the odour was presented ortho- or retronasally. The odour stimulus increased the intensities of thickness and creaminess, but only when the odour was presented retronasally that is as if the odour would have originated from the liquid. Furthermore, this enhancement was most pronounced when odours coincided with swallowing, less pronounced when odours coincided with oral manipulation and absent when presented during mouth filling. The results suggest that cross-modal interactions are the rule rather than the exception, provided that multi-modal sensory integration has occurred.

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