Perceptual integration of tertiary taste mixtures Academic Article uri icon


  • Integration psychophysics was used to explore the taste perception of mixtures of sucrose, fructose, and citric acid. Three levels of each stimulus were varied in a 3 x 3 x 3 factorial design. Subjects rated total intensity, sweetness, and acidity of the 27 mixtures on graphic rating scales. Consistent with earlier work, the perceived total intensity of the tertiary mixtures was found to be dictated by the intensity of the (subjectively) stronger component alone (i.e., either the integrated sweetness or the acidity, whichever was the more intense). In contrast, the sweetness and acidity of the mixture were susceptible to mutual suppression: Sweetness suppressed acidity, acidity suppressed sweetness. There was, however, a difference between sucrose and fructose in their interactions with citric acid, fructose being the more susceptible to suppression. This selectivity of suppression indicates that the two sweetnesses could not have been inextricably integrated. Implications for taste coding are discussed, and the findings are reconciled in terms of two separate coding mechanisms: one for taste intensity, another for taste quality.

publication date

  • July 1990