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Chem Senses. 2016 Mar;41(3):249-59. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjv087. Epub 2016 Jan 31.

Flavor Identification and Intensity: Effects of Stimulus Context.

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Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA.
Division of Student Affairs, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
John B. Pierce Laboratory, New Haven, CT, USA, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
John B. Pierce Laboratory, New Haven, CT, USA, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA and Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA


Two experiments presented oral mixtures containing different proportions of the gustatory flavorant sucrose and an olfactory flavorant, either citral (Experiment 1) or lemon (Experiment 2). In 4 different sessions of each experiment, subjects identified each mixture as "mostly sugar" or "mostly citrus/lemon" or rated the perceived intensities of the sweet and citrus components. Different sessions also presented the mixtures in different contexts, with mixtures containing relatively high concentrations of sucrose or citral/lemon presented more often (skew sucrose or skew citral/lemon). As expected, in both experiments, varying stimulus context affected both identification and perceived intensity: Skewing to sucrose versus citral/lemon decreased the probability of identifying the stimuli as "mostly sugar" and reduced the ratings of sweet intensity relative to citrus intensity. Across both contextual conditions of both experiments, flavor identification associated closely with the ratio of the perceived sweet and citrus intensities. The results accord with a model, extrapolated from signal-detection theory, in which sensory events are represented as multisensory-multidimensional distributions in perceptual space. Changing stimulus context can shift the locations of the distributions relative to response criteria, Decision rules guide judgments based on both sensory events and criteria, these rules not necessarily being identical in tasks of identification and intensity rating.


flavor; gustatory; identification; intensity; mixtures; olfactory

[Available on 2017-03-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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