Gastro-trickery: how optical illusions could fool our minds and our taste buds

Sarah Knapton20 MAY 2018 • 7:00AM

When psychologist Joseph Jastrow created his whimsical duck/rabbit illusion in 1899 it was to prove that an individual’s perception of the world is based on their emotional state, background and surroundings.

A child with a beloved pet bunny, for example, or an adult looking forward to Easter would naturally see the rabbit, while the thoughts of a field sports enthusiast should spontaneously turn towards the duck.

But now chefs believe the same mind games could alter the taste of food and even persuade diners to choose more sustainable meats.

Oxford Universityand multisensory dining experts Kitchen Theory are currently midway through an experiment based on Jastrow’s rabbit illusion, attempting to see if they can alter the taste of food simply by encouraging the brain to switch between two states while eating.