The Science of Eating: Perception and Preference in Human Taste

Saturday, February 19, 2011: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
146A (Washington Convention Center )
Several scientific disciplines are contributing to our understanding of what makes some foods taste good and others less so. Taste and sensory perception, a relatively well-established field of inquiry, has made significant advances in recent years with the application of newer molecular biology techniques to understand, for example, how flavors are released and perceived in the mouth. Biochemistry, however, only provides one part of the picture of human taste perception. There is also a genetic component; people with different genetic makeups can experience the same foods differently. Genetics, combined with fMRI techniques, are helping researchers understand the reasons for differences in taste discrimination, in the “mouth-feel” of different foods, and in differing perceptions of flavor. Taste also has a strong behavioral component, and psychology and neuroscience have demonstrated how an individual’s response to certain tastes (e.g., bitter foods) can be influenced by his or her expectations -- for example, a cue that a taste will be unpleasant. Behind all of this is the role of the person who prepares the food. And the new frontier of culinary art is in the application of science and technology by leading chefs and others to the production of novel flavors and textures in food. This symposium will seek to put these perspectives together in a multidimensional look at how science is shaping today’s foods and how we experience them.
Albert H. Teich, AAAS Science and Policy Programs
Rieko Yajima, AAAS Science and Policy Programs
and Jill Pace, American College of Real Estate Lawyers
Rieko Yajima, AAAS Science and Policy Programs
Kent Kirshenbaum, New York University
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