Chemosensory learning and flavour: perception, preference and intake

Physiol Behav. 2012 Nov 5;107(4):553-9. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.04.008. Epub 2012 Apr 14.


Recent approaches to perception that have emphasised multi-sensory interactions have been crucial in developing a view of flavour as a cognitive construct derived from a synthesis of gustatory, olfactory and oral somatosensory inputs. The perceptual interactions between these distinct sensory channels provide evidence for the existence of a functional flavour system. This system is characterised by a dependence on associative learning in which odours and tastes come to share common features. In addition, studies in which attention is directed to the flavour or its elements during learning provide evidence for a view that flavour is encoded as a configural stimulus following spatial and temporal pairing of the different sensory inputs. Such encoding produces changes in the perceptual properties of odours/flavours - as illustrated by sweet-smelling odours - but is also responsible for changes in hedonic valence through flavour-flavour and flavour-consequence learning. In turn, flavour and odours can act as conditioned cues that have appetitive effects.

MeSH terms

  • Appetite Regulation
  • Association Learning*
  • Cognition
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Olfactory Perception
  • Taste Perception*
  • Taste*