Over recent decades, gastronomy and sensory neuroscience have been sharing a fundamental interest in the principles governing perception. While scientists study the neural mechanisms underlying sensation and cognition, a small but growing number of chefs explore these mechanisms to create remarkable and memorable experiences.

Gastrophysics and Neuroscience Shaping the Future of Gastronomy

Gastronomy and sensory neuroscience have grown to share an increasing amount of interest in the principles which govern perception. There is a growing number of chefs and scientists eager to understand more about the mental and physical relationship we have with food and how this impacts the future of gastronomy. For chefs this opens doors to unique insights into forms of creativity which transcend the imagination, and as for scientists, this allows them to come out of the laboratory and gain a unique perspective of how perceptions are made in the real world. Gastronomy is after all among the richest of all our multisensory experiences and it is even said to be unrivalled in its ability to trigger satisfaction levels in the brain (even more so than sex).

Chefs and Scientists in Dialogue

Always a step ahead in looking towards creativity and innovation, 2 Michelin starred restaurant Mugaritz, The Basque Culinary Centre and The Centre of Genomic Research collaborated on the Brainy Tongue project to promote a dialogue between scientists and chefs. Providing an opportunity for them to work together towards exploring the empirical knowledge and conceptual understanding of aspects involved in sensory perception, through science and cooking.

The first event held between 24 -26th October explored “the empirical knowledge and conceptual understanding of perception”, through interactive seminars and experiments. Some of the world’s most renowned chef’s including Heston Blumenthal, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Eneko Atxa , Jozef Youssef and Janice Wong joined a group of scientists including Irene Irene Miguel-Aliaga, Leslie Vosshall, Charles Spence and Charles Zuker, at the Basque Culinary Centre for one of the gastronomic sciences’ most exciting events in recent years.

Over two days the 26 chefs and scientists explored the themes of 4 set modules; Sensory Systems & Modalities, Multisensory integration, Plasticity and Future Technologies. Brainy Tongue resulted in a series of rich cross disciplinary discussions which will forever impact the fields of neurogastronomy and gastrophysics, as well as the innovation and creativity of the chefs which will continue to filter down into everyday life.