17 July 2017

The bizarre faces we pull in response to food

The bizarre faces we pull in response to food

The often-bizarre faces we pull in response to disgusting food will be the focus of new analysis at Abertay University.

Researchers at Abertay are investigating how facial movements and expressions can be used to gauge the likeability of new health food products.

Carried out in the University’s new £3.5m state-of-the art science labs, which opened earlier this summer, the project will seek to develop a new tool that can show the link between a person’s facial reaction and the sensory stimulus, which provoked the change.

In the long term, the research could hold the key to producing a new range of health foods designed to be more appealing to the general population.

Despite the increase in general knowledge about how to select a healthy diet, some people still consistently make unhealthy food choices.

In addition, the food industry has high failure rate in terms of new health food product launches.

Therefore, understanding the relationship between how people rate foods in terms of their sensory characteristics and how these ratings relate to "liking" is a key part of optimising the new product development process.

As of yet no formal technique has been developed and validated which can reliably predict this relationship.

The project will uniquely combine real-time eating and physiological measures of subjects, whilst observing sensory and facial responses.

A funded Master by Research studentship is available to assist progress, including a tax-free stipend of £14,553 a year, paid tuition fees and a generous study package with travel budget and training.

The aim is to understand the cognitive processes in how we evaluate our foods while eating.

Dr John Grigor, of Abertay’s Division of Food and Drink, said: “We have all pulled a face when we taste, see or smell something unpleasant.

“This project aims to discover more about how that sensory relationship with food works with a view to potentially finding ways to make healthy foods more appealing.”

Earlier this month Abertay’s Division of Food and Drink was ranked top in Scotland and 9th in the UK in the Guardian Good University Guide.

For course information visit https://www.abertay.ac.uk/discover/academic-schools/science-engineering-and-technology/divisionoffoodanddrink/

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