ET1 Sound Bites & Sonic Seasoning


Sound is the forgotten flavour sense. Everything from the sound of the crunch of the potato chip through the sizzle of the steak on the hotplate, the gurgling sounds of the coffee machine, and the ‘ding’ of the microwave; What we hear when we eat and drink can set our expectations and change our experience of taste/flavour. However, music also plays a surprisingly large role in our ability to taste, not to mention the choices we make when in the restaurant/supermarket. Background noise is becoming an increasingly important issue too, with some US restaurants now regularly exceeding 100dB of noise/music. So loud that not only does it impair the taste of the food but is also likely leading to hearing damage for long-term staff! It is the noise of the engines (80-85 dB) that also helps explain why so many people order a tomato juice or Bloody Mary on the plane. However, what I really want to share in this talk is the latest work with world-leading modernist chefs, Michelin-starred chocolatiers, and drinks brands showing how music and soundscapes can be used to season your food and drink – Welcome to the whole new world of sonic seasoning. After listening to this talk, you may never leave the music at mealtimes to chance again!




Spence, C. (2017). Gastrophysics: The new science of eating. London, UK: Viking Penguin. [Gastrologik in German:

Course location

Dining Hall

Course requirements


Instructor information.

Charles Spence


Oxford University


Professor Charles Spence is a world-famous experimental psychologist with a specialization in neuroscience-inspired multisensory design. He has worked with many of the world’s largest companies across the globe since establishing the Crossmodal Research Laboratory (CRL) at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University in 1997. Prof. Spence has published over 850 articles and edited or authored, 10 academic volumes including, in 2014, the Prose prize-winning “The perfect meal”, and the recent bestseller “Gastrophysics: The new science of eating” (2017; Penguin Viking). Much of Prof. Spence’s work focuses on the design of enhanced multisensory food and drink experiences, through collaborations with chefs, baristas, mixologists, perfumiers, and the food and beverage, and flavour and fragrance industries. Prof. Spence has also worked extensively on the question of how technology will transform our dining experiences in the future.

See short video at: Charles Spence – Sensploration (FoST 2016).
And profile at:

"The Perfect Meal" | Talks at Google:

AEG Tasteology:

Neurocuisine, The Guardian:

Spence LSE Gastrophysics talk

Prof. Spence has been awarded numerous national and international prizes for scientific excellence, including the 10th Experimental Psychology Society Prize, the British Psychology Society: Cognitive Section Award, the Paul Bertelson Award, recognizing him as the young European Cognitive Psychologist of the Year, and, the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany): ‘in recognition of past accomplishments in research and teaching’. In 2008, together with Dr. Max Zampini, he was awarded the 2008 IG Nobel prize for nutrition for his work on ‘the sonic crisp’