"Turn Up the Taste": Assessing the Role of Taste Intensity and Emotion in Mediating Crossmodal Correspondences between Basic Tastes and Pitch.
Wang QJ., Wang S., Spence C.
People intuitively match basic tastes to sounds of different pitches, and the matches that they make tend to be consistent across individuals. It is, though, not altogether clear what governs such crossmodal mappings between taste and auditory pitch. Here, we assess whether variations in taste intensity influence the matching of taste to pitch as well as the role of emotion in mediating such crossmodal correspondences. Participants were presented with 5 basic tastants at 3 concentrations. In Experiment 1, the participants rated the tastants in terms of their emotional arousal and valence/pleasantness, and selected a musical note (from 19 possible pitches ranging from C2 to C8) and loudness that best matched each tastant. In Experiment 2, the participants made emotion ratings and note matches in separate blocks of trials, then made emotion ratings for all 19 notes. Overall, the results of the 2 experiments revealed that both taste quality and concentration exerted a significant effect on participants' loudness selection, taste intensity rating, and valence and arousal ratings. Taste quality, not concentration levels, had a significant effect on participants' choice of pitch, but a significant positive correlation was observed between individual perceived taste intensity and pitch choice. A significant and strong correlation was also demonstrated between participants' valence assessments of tastants and their valence assessments of the best-matching musical notes. These results therefore provide evidence that: 1) pitch-taste correspondences are primarily influenced by taste quality, and to a lesser extent, by perceived intensity; and 2) such correspondences may be mediated by valence/pleasantness.