The gustatory system is a gateway to nutrient sensing, yet it is the least understood of our senses. We ask how taste is represented in the human brain and how neural taste processing links to behavior. To address these questions, we develop stimulus techniques and experimental protocols suitable for psychophysical and psychophysiological studies. We are also actively assessing the reliability, validity, and practicality of these measures.
Taste perception seldomly occurs in isolation but taste co-occurs rather with the visual appearance, smell, sound, touch, texture, and temperature of a food stimulus. All sensory inputs influence how we perceive, and eventually, accept or reject the food object. Food perception is therefore multisensory in nature and so is our research. We try to better describe how the different sensory systems interact to shape behavior and how they are integrated at the neural level.
We constantly sample our environment for information or cues that arouse expectations about future events. What are the neural mechanisms by which expectations shape taste perception? What are the behavioral consequences of our neural states representing food in contexts? What is the role of prior experience and knowledge on food perception?
The ability to taste shows large inter-individual variability. Studies suggest that it varies with age or body weight or even with experience. We study these phenomena and try to uncover their (psycho)physiological and biological bases.
Together with our collaborators and vision scientists, our lab has developed a comprehensive database, Food.pics. Food.pics consists of images (and their properties) of food and non-food objects for research of food perception, eating, and appetite. You can find the link to download Food.Pics on our publications page.