Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Sweet Sounds-And Salty

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Sweet Sounds-And Salty

Article excerpt

SYNESTHESIA

Crisinel & Spence (2009). Implicit association between basic tastes and pitch. Neurosci Lett, 464, 39.

Crisinel & Spence (in press). A sweet sound? Food names reveal implicit associations between taste and pitch. Perception.

There are any number of associations between one sensory domain and another, many of which are quite consistent across individuals. Some seem obvious: Loud sounds are bigger-they have more "volume." Some smells are "sharp," perhaps because they have an irritating quality that is, in fact, tactile. Sounds seem to go with colors in a manner that makes all of us almost synesthetic-quick, which is lower; a blue or a red note? And, while we are at it, what is "low" about a low note?

Crisinel and Spence have now added links between taste and pitch to the repertoire of shared cross- modality pairings. Apparently, sweet pitches are high and salty pitches are low; sour is high, bitter is low. If this does not strike you as immediately obvious, that may be because these connections are hidden away in the realm of implicit associations. Crisinel and Spence found these relationships using the Implicit Association Test (IAT)-a sort of generalized Stroop interference task. In the IAT, observers press key A if they hear a low tone and key B if they hear a high tone. The same two keys are mapped to words with characteristic basic tastes (lemon, honey, coffee, pretzel, etc.). Thus, you might be asked to also hit key A for sweet and key B for salty, so the pairing would be sweet-low and salty-high. In another block, the pairing would be reversed: sweet-high and salty-low. …

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