The effect of a crunchy pseudo-chewing sound on perceived texture of softened foods

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Abstract

Elderly individuals whose ability to chew and swallow has declined are often restricted to unpleasant diets of very soft food, leading to a poor appetite. To address this problem, we aimed to investigate the influence of altered auditory input of chewing sounds on the perception of food texture. The modified chewing sound was reported to influence the perception of food texture in normal foods. We investigated whether the perceived sensations of nursing care foods could be altered by providing altered auditory feedback of chewing sounds, even if the actual food texture is dull. Chewing sounds were generated using electromyogram (EMG) of the masseter. When the frequency properties of the EMG signal are modified and it is heard as a sound, it resembles a “crunchy” sound, much like that emitted by chewing, for example, root vegetables (EMG chewing sound). Thirty healthy adults took part in the experiment. In two conditions (with/without the EMG chewing sound), participants rated the taste, texture and evoked feelings of five kinds of nursing care foods using two questionnaires. When the “crunchy” EMG chewing sound was present, participants were more likely to evaluate food as having the property of stiffness. Moreover, foods were perceived as rougher and to have a greater number of ingredients in the condition with the EMG chewing sound, and satisfaction and pleasantness were also greater. In conclusion, the “crunchy” pseudo-chewing sound could influence the perception of food texture, even if the actual “crunchy” oral sensation is lacking. Considering the effect of altered auditory feedback while chewing, we can suppose that such a tool would be a useful technique to help people on texture-modified diets to enjoy their food.

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Endo, H., Ino, S., & Fujisaki, W. (2016). The effect of a crunchy pseudo-chewing sound on perceived texture of softened foods. Physiology and Behavior, 167, 324–331. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.10.001

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