“Although widely perceived, there is no clear physiological mechanism for the sensation known as ‘mouthwatering’ “ say researchers Yovaan Ilangakoon and Dr. Guy Carpenter in the Journal of texture studies (Volume 42, Issue 3, pages 212–216, June 2011).
The team, based at the Salivary Research Unit of King’s College London Dental Institute, performed a set of experimental studies in which 5 participants not only handled and chewed food, but also gazed at photos of pizza, hot dogs, Thai curry, stir fry, strawberries, cake, lemons, pasta bake, Indian curry, roast beef, sweet trolley and roast chicken. Whilst doing so, their saliva was carefully collected and quantified.
The results, which may seem counterintuitive, and perhaps even disheartening to gourmets, chefs, and ad-agencies alike, showed that : “Unlike animals, and in particular Pavlov’s dogs, humans are not able to salivate at the thought of food.” [our italics].
The full text of ‘IS THE MOUTHWATERING SENSATION A TRUE SALIVARY REFLEX?’ can be found here.
Bonus: As a step towards evaluating whether you may or may not be able to salivate at the sight of comestibles, try watching this video showing the preparation of a Brazilian Caipirinha from a fresh lime: