Perception Smell Taste and Sight Term Paper

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In the same way, if one were to intentionally color the inside of a piece of apple a dark brown color, a color that is generally associated with rotten apples, then one would not taste it. In essence, this means that at times, one sense would effectively overwhelm the others, so that eventually, this sense would overtake the others. (Fields, 2004)

In this particular case of the brown apple, the sight of the brown color in the apple would overwhelm the other senses of smell and taste, until such time that one would feel tempted to throw the apple away rather than take a risk and taste it. This means that the sense of sight can prove invaluable to a person as far as tasting the food is concerned; it is the sense of sight that one may rely on to warn us that the food has gone bad, or that it may be poisonous, and so on. Certain studies have been able to show that when one perceives a darker color, like for example, when one is presented with a dark colored liquid, one would feel that it is stronger than that which is lighter in color. This means that the senses of sight and taste interact with each other, so that the individual is able to make use of all the senses to protect him. (Fields, 2004) Therefore, it must be stated that the sight of the food that one eats has a direct impact on one's willingness to eat it. Today, this factor is understood more clearly than before, and this is the reason why chefs spend so much of time dressing put the food that is presented at the table; one can well imagine a messy looking plate of food placed in front of us at the table at a restaurant, which nobody would be tempted to touch. Color, too, plays an important role in lending one visual cues about the food that we eat, and the way in which it is supposed to taste. ("The influence of color on taste perception," 2007)

Take for example, an experiment in which a bowl of yellow colored gelatinous mass is placed in front of us. If one were to be asked what this would taste like, the answer would most probably be based on one's prior experience in eating a yellow colored food, like for example, lemons, or bananas, and one's answer would be based on this experience. Therefore, it must be said that when it is a matter of taste, color and visual presentation do really matter. The journalist Eric Schlosser mentions an experiment that he conducted during the 1970's, to find the impact of the color of food on one's taste and therefore, one's appetite. The test subjects were given a plate of food to eat within a room which had been specially lit. The food they were given, French fries and steaks appeared to be normally colored. ("The influence of color on taste perception," 2007)

However, when the lighting was changed, and the actual dyed color of the food was revealed to blue for the steaks and green for the French fries, the participants became ill, thinking that they had consumed odd colored foods. This, says Eric, could be attributed to the fact that almost all individuals harbor an instinctive aversion to certain colors of food, blue and purple chief among them, probably because these colors are more often than not associated with spoiled and rotten foods, and never with normal foods. Some colors, on the other hand, may make food seem more appetizing, like for example, all butter is initially white, but since white is an unappealing color, yellow is added to the butter so that the butter appears to be yellow, and therefore, appetizing and appealing. ("The influence of color on taste perception," 2007)

One experiment in particular would explain whether visual cues that were related to the size of volume of food intake would be able to influence the volume of the intake of food offered to an individual, without either altering the estimated satisfaction, or the intake. Fifty four participants aged between eighteen to forty six years were given normal bowls and self refilling bowls of soup. The self refilling bowls were created with two of four bowls which would slowly but imperceptibly fill up as and when the contents were being consumed. When the subjects were asked to eat the soup form their given bowls, it was found that those who had been given self refilling bowls ate rather large quantities in comparison with those who ate form the normal bowls. However, even after consuming an enormous 73% more than the others, those individuals who ate from self refilling bowls did not feel that they had eaten any more than the others, nor were they completely satiated with the amount of soup they had consumed. The reason was that they had no visual cue at all that their bowls were self refilling ones, and therefore, their brains had not received the message that they were satisfied. This simple experiment demonstrates the vital importance of visual cues in relationship to one's appetite. Apparently, one uses one's eyes to count the calories, and not one's stomachs, thereby lessening one's self-monitoring of the portions that one consumes. (Wansink; Painter; North, 2005)

In the same way, olfactory influences play a large role in one's appetite and in one's sense of taste. For example, food-related smells and odors have been shown to increase one's appetite, while at the same time inducing salivation and the simultaneous release of gastric acid and insulin (Yeomans, 2006). There can be four important processes that are involved in the satiety, and the appetite signals that one receives as a part and parcel of one's consumption of food. These can be described as cognitive, sensory, post intake, and finally, post absorptive processes, and all of these serve to influence the food that one consumes. (Legg; Booth, 1994)

To conclude, it must be stated that the senses of smell and sight work together in making the food that one eats appear to be more appetizing, while at the same time, the brain keeps busy recording the various and several visual, olfactory and taste cues offered by the food placed in front of us, and these can eventually dictate the amount of food that one ultimately consumes. In all probability, a person who needs to lose weight must be offered a plate of completely unappetizing looking food, whose color and texture and smell would be awful, and these cues would offer the dieter some reason to not eat the food in front of him. This could work both ways, and therefore, there can be no doubt that several of one's sense organs must work together in order to present an appetizing picture of one's food.


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Legg, Charles R; Booth, David Allenby. (1994) "Appetite, Neural and behavioral bases"

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Wansink, Brian; Painter, James E; North, Jill. (2005) "Bottomless Bowls, why visual cues of portion size may influence intake" Obesity Research, vol. 13, no. 2, pp: 93-100.

Yeomans, Martin R. (2006, Apr) "Olfactory influences and satiety on humans" Physiology and…[continue]

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