We all know the saying, “You eat with your eyes first,” but a new study suggests that our ears may play a bigger role in our tasting experiences than one might expect.
Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, recently published a report in the journal Flavour, aptly titled “Eating with our ears: assessing the importance of the sounds of consumption on our perception and enjoyment of multisensory flavour experiences.” He reviewed a variety of research looking at how sound and taste relate to each other, coming to the conclusion that “sound is undoubtedly the forgotten flavor sense.”
TIME highlighted a number of the findings that support his case. In one of his own prior studies, Spence found that people gave carbonated beverages a higher rating when the sound of the bubbles popping was louder and more frequent. He also spoke to the importance of foods being crisp not just in texture but in sound as well. A study at the University of Leeds determined that when eating bacon, “texture and the crunching sound is just—if not more—important” to your enjoyment.
“In the future, my guess is that various technologies, some of which will be embedded in digital artefacts, will increasingly come to augment the natural sounds of our foods at the dining table,” Spence writes. That’s right, get ready to start bringing your Beats by Dre to dinner.
And Spence makes another interesting prediction: “Given the growing ageing population, there may also be grounds for increasing the crunch in our food in order to make it more interesting (not to say enjoyable) for those who are starting to lose their ability to smell and taste food.” Quick, grab a patent on a food hearing aid before someone beats you to it.