Do we eat with our ears?

Prof. Charles Spence

Besides taste, there are other senses at work when we eat. How much of an influence does the environment have over our food behaviour?

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If you thought the music played in restaurants was merely incidental, think again. Research indicates it can add up to 15% more flavour and make us drink 30% more than we otherwise would. 

Gastrophysics is a relatively new field of research that explores how our appreciation of food and flavour is shaped by the senses. And not just taste: pioneering studies have shown that everything from the weight of the cutlery to the colour of the plate and, yes, the music in the restaurant can alter our perceptions.

To help us understand this fascinating subject we will be joined in The Garden by the guru of gastrophysics himself, Professor Charles Spence. He will share the results of experiments conducted in his Oxford University lab and explain the concept of ‘sonic seasoning’ and how it can be practically applied to nudge consumers towards healthier, more sustainable food choices.

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Talk outline


50 minutes


Food for Thought

About the Fellow

Prof. Charles Spence

Professor Charles Spence is an experimental psychologist who researches the factors that influence what we choose to eat and what we think about the experience with the likes of world-leading chefs.

Food for Thought Collection

Why is food so important to us? Beyond its nutritional benefits, food connects people. This series explores how our relationship with food has evolved over time and the meanings that different cultures ascribe to food.