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We investigated whether there are reliable crossmodal associations between foods/flavours and words in neurologically normal individuals. Participants were given a range of foods to taste, and had to rate each one along a number of dimensions. These included scales anchored with the words "takete/maluma" and "bouba/kiki". The results highlight the existence of robust crossmodal associations between complex foods/flavours and words in normal (i.e., nonsynesthetic) individuals. For example, crisps (potato chips) and cranberry sauce are rated as being more "takete" than brie cheese, while mint chocolate is rated as more "kiki" than regular chocolate. On the basis of these results, we suggest that our brains can extract supramodal/conceptual properties from foods/flavours (just as has been demonstrated previously using auditory and visual stimuli) and meaningfully match them crossmodally. The possibility that this process is based on the global Gestalt of a food rather than on any specific sensory qualities is also discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Neurosci

Publication Date





34 - 46