Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Winter 2013, page 6

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The 18th Annual International Noise Awareness Day
is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, 2013!


Sonic-enhanced food

It's well documented how the appearance of food and its smell influence what we eat, but the effect sound has on taste is an expanding area of research. A recent study by scientists at Oxford University found certain tones could make things taste sweeter or more bitter. "No experience is a single sense experience," says Russell Jones, from sonic branding company Condiment Junkie, who were involved in the study. "So much attention is paid to what food looks like and what it smells like, but sound is just as important."

What noises affect what tastes?

*Low brass sounds make things taste more bitter. *High-pitched tunes played on a piano or bells make things taste sweeter.

The Bittersweet Study, conducted by Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, found the taste of food could be adjusted by changing the sonic properties of a background soundtrack. "We're not entirely sure what happens in the brain as yet, but something does happen and that's really exciting," says Jones.

Sound and food have been experimented with by chef Heston Blumenthal. His Fat Duck restaurant has a dish called the Sound of the Sea, which is served with an iPod playing sounds of the seaside. The sounds reportedly make the food taste fresher.

But more widespread uses are developing. One that could have an important impact is the use of music to remove unhealthy ingredients without people noticing the difference in taste. "We know what frequency makes things taste sweeter," says Jones. "Potentially you could reduce the sugar in a food but use music to make it seem just as sweet to the person eating it."

Companies are also increasingly using the link between food and sound in packaging. One crisp company changed the material it used to make packets as the cruncher sound made the crisps taste fresher to consumers. Recommended playlists could also appear on packaging to help enhance the taste of the product. Jones says the use of sound is even being applied to white goods. Companies are looking into the hum fridges make, as a certain tone could make people think their food is fresher.

Source of Article


Pacific and Atlantic herring produce burst pulse sounds

The commercial importance of Pacific and Atlantic herring (Clupea pallasii and Clupea harengus) has ensured that much of their biology has received attention. However, their sound production remains poorly studied. We describe the sounds made by captive wild-caught herring. Pacific herring produce distinctive bursts of pulses, termed Fast Repetitive Tick (FRT) sounds. These trains of broadband pulses (1.7 - 22kHz) lasted between 0.6 and 7.6 seconds. Most were produced at night; feeding regime did not affect their frequency, and fish produced FRT sounds without direct access to the air. Digestive gas or gulped air transfer to the swim bladder therefore do not appear to be responsible for FRT sounds, and video analysis

showed an association with bubble expulsion from the anal duct region (i.e. from the gut or swim bladder). To the best of the author's knowledge, sound production by such means has not previously been described. Function(s) of these sounds are unknown, but as the per capita rates of sound production by fish at higher densities were greater, social mediation appears likely. These sounds may have consequences for our understanding of herring behaviour and the effects of noise pollution.

Ben Wilson, Robert S. Batty and Lawrence M. Dill The Royal Society, Biology Letters


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Don't be fooled by the noise. The hen that had only laid an addled egg often cackles as if it had given birth to an entire planet.

- Mark Twain



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