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Many metallic visual stimuli, especially the so-called precious metals, have long had a rich symbolic meaning for humans. Intriguingly, however, while metallic is used to describe sensations associated with pretty much every sensory modality, the descriptor is normally positively valenced in the case of vision while typically being negatively valenced in the case of those metallic sensations that are elicited by the stimulation of the chemical senses. In fact, outside the visual modality, metallic would often appear to be used to describe those sensations that are unfamiliar and unpleasant as much as to refer to any identifiable perceptual quality (or attribute). In this review, we assess those sensory stimuli that people choose to refer to as metallic, summarising the multiple, often symbolic, meanings of (especially precious) metals. The evidence of positively valenced sensation transference from metallic serviceware (e.g., plates, cups, and cutlery) to the food and drink with which it comes into contact is also reviewed.

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Journal article



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ambimodal, flavour, material perception, metallic, odour, taste