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Crossmodal perception illustration showing that coffee tastes better when the machine is quiet and why plane food is less tasty

Crossmodal perception

Crossmodal perception is when senses interact in sometimes surprising ways. Some fun examples:

  • Coffee tastes better when you don’t have a loud coffee machine near you, and it also tastes more intense and less sweet if the mug is white.
  • In the atmosphere of a pressurised cabin when flying, with decreased humidity and air pressure and significant background noise, things taste less sweet or salty.
  • If you can’t hear the crunch of, say, a Pringles potato chip, then it tastes less fresh.

You might enjoy Nicola Twilley’s super New Yorker article, The Illusion of Taste, which has more of the science and plenty more examples.

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