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In this article, the evidence demonstrating the significant role that saliva plays in taste and flavor perception in humans is reviewed. Empirical research highlighting the effects of a number of food-related, environmental and higher-order cognitive factors (such as attention, mental imagery and labeling) on salivary flow is critically examined. The argument is put forward that changes in salivary flow may have contributed to the results of a number of recent studies of multisensory flavor perception. Indeed, it is striking how rarely salivation is mentioned by cognitive psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists when studying gustatory and/or multisensory flavor perception. The hope is that this review may help to redress this potentially important imbalance. Recommendations for future research in this area are included, and finally, the potential commercial applications of these findings are also reviewed briefly. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: This review highlights the potential problems of interpretation that academic researchers interested either directly in the topic of taste or multisensory flavor perception, or indirectly in the effects of environmental (e.g., atmospheric) changes on flavor perception can run into if they fail to consider the role that any overt changes in salivation may have on the effects they report. This review also highlights the fact that in commercial settings, the large baseline individual differences in salivation are likely to swamp anything that the chef/company can do to modify the salivary flow of their customers via environmental/labeling interventions. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Texture Studies

Publication Date





157 - 171