Australian scientists have experimentally shown that at a certain volume level, any extraneous sounds (even calm music) can interfere with enjoying food. To do this, they conducted a study in which they asked participants to eat a light lunch accompanied by the sound of a restaurant, a road, or light instrumental music. The louder the noise, the less delicious the food tasted to the participants. The article was published in the journal Applied Acoustics .
Although different senses and related structures of the brain are responsible for the perception of different types of information, all of a person's senses still work simultaneously. Other modalities, therefore, can greatly interfere with the assimilation of information: therefore, for example, some people find it difficult to read and listen to music at the same time. This also applies to the work of taste buds: it is believed that third-party noise, a turned on TV or a book can distract from the process of absorbing food, as a result of which a person will be satiated more slowly. That is why, for example, people who monitor their weight are advised to eat in silence.
Moreover, studies show that noise during food intake can completely disrupt the perception of taste: for example, sugary foods can become less sweet for a person. At the same time, it is clear that not all third-party sounds equally affect a person's perception of what he eats - but this issue has not yet been studied in such detail.
Mahmoud Alamir and Kristy Hensen of Flinders University have suggested that there is a threshold beyond which outside sounds become uncomfortable during a meal, and that different sounds are associated with enjoyment of food in different ways. For their experiment, they used three different types of sounds: melodic music, which is often used in cafes, the noise of a restaurant, and the noise of the road.
The experiment involved 15 people: each of them was asked to eat a falafel sandwich and fruit skewers in a room with external noise turned on at 30, 40 and 50 decibels and immediately afterwards rate how much they liked the food on a scale from 0 to 10. Total each the participant thus rated the food at three different third-party sounds at three different volume levels: participants were randomly turned on.
It turned out that the participants' assessment of food actually depends on the type of external sound (p <0.001): when soft music was played, the food tasted better to the participants than when the sound of the restaurant or the road was turned on. Moreover, the more noise there was in the room, the less participants liked the food (p <0.001), and this dependence was no longer explained by the type of sound included. On the other hand, when quiet music was turned on at 30 and 40 decibels, the participants' scores rose (p <0.001).
The authors of the work concluded that outside noise can actually prevent people from enjoying food, while at a certain level the situation can be reversed. The researchers noted that their data could help establishments to improve the comfort of their customers, but clarified that they, of course, do not apply to the entire population: mainly because only people with normal hearing participated in the study. In addition, many other third-party factors can influence the enjoyment of food, which is rather difficult to take into account in one study: therefore, the authors insist that such experiments be carried out further.
And the way it is consumed can also affect the attractiveness of food: two years ago, scientists showed that, for example, popcorn tastes better to people when they eat it with chopsticks.