Recent Trends and Challenges in Sensory and Perception Science

Recent Trends and Challenges in Sensory and Perception Science

Tugba Aktar (Alanya Alaaddin Keykubat University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1924-0.ch009
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Eating is a vital and essential part of life. The routine process is not straightforward but highly sophisticated in that it incorporates dynamic changes on the food structure that triggers different modalities of food sensation. Sensory studies are being expanded with contributions from physiology, psychology, dentistry, neuroscience, and food science. All these experts seek answers to catastrophic and complicated procedures created by the oral process. This chapter provides information about the past and present of sensory science in 5 main sections: Sensation and perception (to provide an insight to psychological and physiological approaches); psychophysical laws (to interpret the missing link between the stimulus and perception); sensory market success and consumer behavior (to highlight the necessity of sensory testing for the industry and consumer); sensory evaluation methods; and recent developments in the field.
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Sensory science is one of the neglected fields of study and it has been getting the deserved attention only since mid-90s (Heymann, 2019). Even though being a new field, the development rate is very high due to the increasing demand for food products. Despite being a need for survival, food is a social element for our lives. Therefore, a rapid increase in the field of sensory science is more or less expected. As mentioned by Skinner (1989), sensory evaluation of food is one of the needs of the food companies, especially for new product development, reformulation, optimizing competitor responding capability as well as strengthening the product position in the market. The aim of this chapter is to provide basic background of the sensory field as well as emphasizing the significance of the field. Meanwhile, recent developments about the sensory science and technological applications will be provided in order to image the bigger picture of the food technology and sensory collaboration.

Sensory science got its star era when the food science collides with engineering, physics, human physiology as well as psychology. That multi-science collision initiated with the question of “How do we perceive the senses?”. In order to understand the perception mechanism of the senses the knowledge is required about, physiology (to understand the neurons and cognitive receptors that transfer the sense), physics (to get familiar with the oral geometry, food geometry as well as the physical aspect and the design of the food itself), food science (to understand the chemical changes that may occur with the integration of saliva), engineering (to understand the human mechanics application during oral processing such as, jaw movement and shearing between the oral surfaces), and psychology (to know the cognitive perception and cultural observations of the previous experiences with the food sample). Hence, to understand the dynamics of the sensory and oral processing, a team that can co-operate those skills is a “must” for full mapping of the eating experience.

Undoubtedly consumption of food is motivated for survival to compensate the energy used by the body. However, starvation nowadays is a term used not only to express the real meaning but also used for expressing the sociological need of food, especially which involves a crowded group of people such as family or friends. In order to fulfill the need of socialization by food, consumers have a highly increasing demand for food which results in chronic energy intake that leads to obesity in longer terms (Krop et al., 2018). Under the light of this information despite the increasing demand on sensory science itself, emerging fields’ related to sensory is also developing. Oral processing, perception pathways or behavioral studies to observe the effect of senses on the perception as well as manipulation of sensory systems has been attracting the researcher's attention. Therefore, this chapter will focus on the sensory evaluation principles of the foods, by highlighting the sensation mechanisms and integrated fields of study. The main objective of this chapter is to provide readers with updated knowledge and mechanisms of underpinning principles of sensory testing.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Analytical Sensory Analyses: One of two main types of sensory analysis techniques that is mainly applied at laboratory applications. It involves discrimination and descriptive analysis.

Time-Intensity Analysis (TI): An innovative classical scaling method which involves temporal information about the perception during oral processing.

Hedonic Sensory Analyses: One of two main types of sensory analysis techniques. It may be named as consumer tests, which is usually applied to observe the consumers acceptance and preference.

Discrimination Sensory Analyses: One of the analytical sensory analyses tests, which aims to understand the perception threshold of the consumer.

Sensory Analysis: It is a field of science that applies experimental design and statistical analysis to measure the human senses, which reflects the acceptance and preference for consumer products.

Temporal Dominance of Sensation Analysis (TDS): An innovative computerized sensory test, that measures the dynamic perception of several attributes at once from the first bite to swallow.

Descriptive Sensory Analyses: One of the analytical sensory analyses tests, which is applied to observe the full image of the product from the point of the consumer.

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