Multisensory Experiences

Enhancing Multisensory Experiences and Brands Through Sound

Speaker: Professor Charles Spence (Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Oxford University)


In this talk, I will highlight a number of the most exciting recent developments from the world of cognitive neuroscience as they apply to the enhancement of multisensory product and brand experiences through the utilization of sound. I will discuss the results of our continued collaboration with restaurants such as The Fat Duck and the sonic branding company Condiment Junkie in terms of the ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ dish: A gastronomic experience in which sound is used to change the taste of food (see Crisinel et al., 2012). I will summarize the latest findings from Anne-Sylvie Crisinel’s on-going research on the mapping of music (specifically notes and specific classes of instrument sounds) to tastes, textures, aromas etc (see Crisinel & Spence, 2012).

I will highlight our current understanding of the mechanisms underlying such unusual (some would even say synaesthetic) crossmodal matches (see Deroy et al., submitted), and the latest attempts to create a fuller parameterization of the musical attributes that match tastes and flavours. Finally, I will describe our attempts to influence people’s enjoyment and appreciation of a variety of more complex sensory experiences – in drinks such as Cognac (Crisinel et al., submitted), in perfume (together with Condiment Junkie and Roja Dove), and in augmented reality clothing applications (together with Condiment Junkie and Holition).

  • Crisinel, A.-S., Cosser, S., King, S., Jones, R., Petrie, J., & Spence, C. (2012). A bittersweet symphony: Systematically modulating the taste of food by changing the sonic properties of the soundtrack playing in the background. Food Quality and Preference, 24, 201-204.
  • Crisinel, A.-S., Jacquier, C., Deroy, O., & Spence, C. (submitted). Composing with cross-modal correspondences: Music and smells in concert. Chemosensory Perception.
  • Crisinel, A.-S., & Spence, C. (2012). Crossmodal correspondences between chemosensory stimuli and musical notes. Seeing & Perceiving, 25 (Supple.), 72.
  • Deroy, O., Crisinel, A.-S., & Spence, C. (submitted). Crossmodal correspondences: Lessons from music and perfume. Chemical Senses.
  • Knöferle, K. M., & Spence, C. (in press). Crossmodal correspondences between sounds and tastes. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.