14 Mar 2013

Science of Eating

From Our Changing World, 9:20 pm on 14 March 2013

Articulograph and team using to study how we eat

Peter Cannon (left), John Grigor, PhD student Hongyan Yao (seated) and Kylie Foster with the artioculograph that measures small movements of the mouth and jaw during eating (image: A. Ballance)

Think about what happens when you eat, say, a piece of chocolate. Then think about eating a dry cracker. What happens to the food in your mouth? How does its flavour and texture change as you chew?

Finding out what goes on inside your mouth while you eat is something that interests Kylie Foster and John Grigor from the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health at Massey University. They’re collaborating with Peter Cannon from the School of Psychology, who studies psychophysiology and uses electromyography to measure facial muscles and correlate people’s perceptions of food with their muscle response. The team hope their research into the science of eating will stimulate food innovation and the development of smarter foods by food manufacturers.

Alison Ballance heads to Massey University at Albany to meet the team, and find out about a key piece of research equipment – the articulograph. Originally developed for use in speech language therapy, the articulograph at Massey University is the only one in New Zealand, and one of only six or so being used in labs around the world. It uses tiny transmitters attached to the face, tongue or teeth to measure mouth and jaw movements.