Multimodal flavour perception: the impact of sweetness, bitterness, alcohol content and carbonation level on flavour perception

Clark, Rebecca A. (2011) Multimodal flavour perception: the impact of sweetness, bitterness, alcohol content and carbonation level on flavour perception. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Flavour perception of food and beverages is a complex multisensory experience involving the gustatory, olfactory, trigeminal, auditory and visual senses. Thus, investigations into multimodal flavour perception require a multidisciplinary design of experiments approach. This research has focussed on beer flavour perception and the fundamental interactions between the main flavour components - sweetness, bitterness (from hop acids), alcohol content and carbonation level. A model beer was developed using representative ingredients which could be manipulated to systematically vary the concentration of the main flavour components in beer and was used in the following experiments.

Using a full factorial design, the physical effect of ethanol, C02 and hop acid addition was determined by headspace analysis and in-nose expired breath (in-vivo) measurements. Results from headspace and in-vivo methods differed and highlighted the importance of in-vivo measures when correlating to sensory experience. Ethanol and C02 significantly increased volatile partitioning during model beverage consumption. The effects of ethanol and C02 appeared to be independent and therefore additive, which could account for up to 86% increase in volatile partitioning. This would increase volatile delivery to the olfactory bulb and thus potentially enhance aroma and flavour perception. This was investigated using quantitative descriptive analysis. Results showed that C02 significantly impacted all discriminating attributes, either directly or as a result of complex interactions with other design factors. C02 suppressed the sweetness of dextrose and interacted with hop acids to modify bitterness and tingly perception. Ethanol was the main driver of complexity of flavour and enhanced sweet perception. In a first study of its kind, the impact of C02 on gustatory perception was further investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand cortical response. In addition, classification of subjects into PROP taster status groups and thermal taster status groups was carried out. Groups were tested for their sensitivity to oral stimuli using sensory techniques and for the first time, cortical response to taste and C02 was investigated between groups using fMRI techniques and behavioural data. There was no correlation between PROP taster status and thermal taster status. PROP taster status groups varied in their cortical response to stimuli with PROP super-tasters showing significantly higher cortical activation to samples than PROP non-tasters.

The mechanism for thermal taster status is not currently known but thermal tasters were found to have higher cortical activation in response to the samples. The difference in cortical activation between thermal taster groups was supported by behavioural data as thermal tasters least preferred, but were more able to discriminate the high C02 sample than thermal non-tasters.

This research has provided in-depth study into the importance of flavour components in beer. It advances the limited data available on the effects of C02 on sensory perception in a carbonated beverage, providing sound data for the successful development of products with reduced ethanol or C02 levels. The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging has revealed for the first time that oral C02 significantly increases activation in the somatosensory cortex. However, C02 seemed to have a limited impact on activation strength in 'taste' areas, such as the anterior insula. Research comparing data from PROP taster status groups and thermal taster status groups has given insight into the possible mechanisms accounting for differences in oral intensity of stimuli.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hort, J.
Subjects: T Technology > TP Chemical technology > TP 368 Food processing and manufacture
T Technology > TX Home economics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences
Item ID: 13432
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2013 08:59
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 09:57

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