Producing a Mental Representation of a Cup of Sake: A Comparison of Experimental Methods and a Tool for Generating Cognitive Content

Producing a Mental Representation of a Cup of Sake: A Comparison of Experimental Methods and a Tool for Generating Cognitive Content

Hiroki Fukushima (Kyushu Women's University, Japan)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7979-3.ch012


In this chapter, methodologies for producing a mental representation of a cup of sake are introduced. Mental representations of taste are often vague and fuzzy in comparison to audio or visual images. On the other hand, some individuals, such as sommeliers or tasters of sake, are able to readily formulate a representation of the taste they experience. How can the average person produce words or other types of mental representations in such a situation? In this chapter, the author presents three methodologies for eliciting mental representations of taste: a new supporting tool for verbalizing an image of taste, an experimental method for testing a verbal and visual image for taste, and an experimental methodology for producing a free drawing representation of a cup of sake.
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Of course, the ability to distinguish taste is not exclusive to sommeliers and other professionals. The question is: How do people bridge the gap between their sense of taste and the language they use to describe what they are tasting? In other words, what kinds of strategies do people employ to express something that is hard to verbalize?

In a previous study, the author proposed a multifaceted representation model for the sensory domain of taste, with a special focus on the taste of sake (Fukushima, 2018). There, the author sought to bridge the gap between the domain of taste and the domain of words. On the basis of this “first-person-singular study,” a pictorial description in combination with a verbal description was proposed as a way to achieve this goal.

When people describe taste, it is a common strategy to say such things as “it tastes like a banana” or “it tastes like a plum.” This strategy, one used even by specialists such as sommeliers, suggests that we tend to turn to a different source (“banana” or “plum” in this case) (Wilson & Stevenson, 2006). Seto (2003) collected a large number of expressions used to describe the perception of taste and smell and showed that the number of expressions describing these perceptions directly is very limited and that metaphorical expressions are used pervasively instead.

Key Terms in this Chapter

New Flavor Wheel: A new style of flavor wheel proposed by the author. The features of the new format are 1) the arrangement of the tasting words is based on co-occurrence relationships, and 2) a network structure rather than a hierarchical structure is used. In this new type of flavor wheel, the tasting words are arranged on a double layer; the words in the inner circle are prototype members of a category, while the words in the outer circle are peripheral members of the category.

SAKE: An alcoholic beverage (so-called “Japanese rice wine”) made by fermenting rice. The primary tastes of sake are sweetness, umami, and acidity. The flavor is fine and thin; the high-class sake “Ginjohshu” has a fruity flavor similar to bananas, melons, or apples.

Classic Flavor Wheel: A chart used to evaluate alcoholic drinks or other luxury grocery items. There are various patterns of flavor wheels in domains such as wine, coffee, whiskey, beer, and so on. The typical classic flavor wheel has a hierarchical structure for the expression words.

Multi-Faceted Representation: A manner of representation proposed by the author. It consists of multiple representations, such as sensory representation, verbal representation, and non-verbal representation.

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