The hallucinogenic brew Ayahuasca, a rich source of serotonergic agonists and reuptake inhibitors, has been used for ages by Amazonian populations during religious ceremonies. Among all perceptual changes induced by Ayahuasca, the most remarkable are vivid "seeings." During such seeings, users report potent imagery. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging during a closed-eyes imagery task, we found that Ayahuasca produces a robust increase in the activation of several occipital, temporal, and frontal areas. In the primary visual area, the effect was comparable in magnitude to the activation levels of natural image with the eyes open. Importantly, this effect was specifically correlated with the occurrence of individual perceptual changes measured by psychiatric scales. The activity of cortical areas BA30 and BA37, known to be involved with episodic memory and the processing of contextual associations, was also potentiated by Ayahuasca intake during imagery. Finally, we detected a positive modulation by Ayahuasca of BA 10, a frontal area involved with intentional prospective imagination, working memory and the processing of information from internal sources. Therefore, our results indicate that Ayahuasca seeings stem from the activation of an extensive network generally involved with vision, memory, and intention. By boosting the intensity of recalled images to the same level of natural image, Ayahuasca lends a status of reality to inner experiences. It is therefore understandable why Ayahuasca was culturally selected over many centuries by rain forest shamans to facilitate mystical revelations of visual nature.
The drinking experience depends on the multisensory integration of attributes of the drink itself as well as the characteristics of the drinking vessel, not to mention the environment in which the drink happens to be tasted. The receptacles from which we drink have been shown to affect the perception of the sensory and hedonic attributes of various different beverages (especially in the world of wine). The present study was designed to investigate whether the shape of the cup would also influence amateur and/or expert consumers' perception of aroma, taste, and hedonic evaluation of specialty coffee. A large-sample experiment (involving 276 participants) was conducted in a specialty coffee event in Brazil. The participants were divided into three testing groups according to the shape of the cup in which the coffee was served (tulip, open, or split). Tasters evaluated their experience of the aroma, sweetness, acidity, and liking of the coffee. Multivariate analysis of variance was conducted in order to assess the effect of cup shape on sensory and hedonic ratings, and whether expertise modulated these ratings. Both amateurs and experts judged: (1) the aroma to be significantly stronger in the tulip cup, and (2) the sweetness and acidity to be significantly more intense in the split cup. Interestingly, the split cup received the lowest liking scores from the amateurs, but not from the experts. Taken together, these results demonstrate for the first time that the shape of the cup significantly affects the perception of the sensory attributes of specialty coffee, for both amateur and expert consumers. The implications of these results for the design of coffee cups that convey some functional and/or perceptual benefit as well as possible directions for future research are discussed.
It has been demonstrated previously that the surface textures of product packaging and servingware can impact the perceived taste and mouthfeel of various different foods and beverages. The present study was designed to investigate whether coffee cups with different surface textures would influence the judgment of taste and mouthfeel attributes in specialty coffee by experts (Q-graders) and amateur consumers alike. A total of 231 participants were tested in one of the three studies. A preliminary test conducted at a specialty coffee event in Russia indicated that rubbing a swatch of sandpaper whilst drinking coffee influenced perceived body and aftertaste qualities. In the two main studies (Experiment 1 for Q-graders, and Experiment 2 for amateurs), the participants evaluated a sample of specialty coffee (a different coffee in each study) served in either a smooth or a rough ceramic cup. The coffee was rated by the Q-graders as tasting significantly more acidic when sampled from the rough cup, as opposed to the smooth, whereas the amateurs perceived the coffee as being significantly sweeter when tasted from the smooth cup rather than from the rough cup instead. Both Q-graders and amateurs judged the aftertaste as significantly dryer when tasted from the rough rather than from the smooth cup. The perception of body was not significantly affected in any of the experiments. These results demonstrate that haptic cues influence the judgment of basic tastes as well as mouthfeel attributes in specialty coffee, for both experts and amateur consumers. Such results should be considered by the industry when designing innovative coatings for coffee cups. In addition to innovation, though, it is important to create cups that convey some functional and/or perceptual benefit for the coffee drinking experience.
The multisensory attributes of packaging provide an important source of information on attracting consumers' attention. They also help priming sensory and hedonic expectations, which may affect the judgment of products. The present study aimed at investigating whether the typeface of packaging labels would influence the sensory and hedonic judgments of specialty coffee by amateur consumers. Specialty coffee amateur consumers (n = 146) evaluated their expectations of coffee acidity and sweetness by looking at package labels with different typefaces, varying solely on the roundness or angularity. Subsequently, they rated their experiences of the same attributes when tasting a cup of coffee, in addition to judging their liking and purchase intent. The results revealed that the angular typeface increased expectation and actual perception of the coffee acidity as well as purchase intent ratings. However, contrary to the frequently suggested correspondence between sweetness and roundness, no association was found between the round typeface and sweet taste ratings. Practical applications This study contributes to the literature of taste/shape crossmodal correspondence by showing that the consumers' sensory and hedonic evaluations of specialty coffee are influenced by the angularity versus roundness of the typeface on the packaging label. These findings emphasize the potential importance of the visual elements of packaging labels on consumers' perception of food/drink. These results are relevant to packaging design since different coffee profiles could be matched with different label typefaces in order to potentially enhance the consumers' coffee drinking experience.
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