Valid Comparisons of Suprathreshold Sensations

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Individual experience is subjective: We can describe experiences, but we cannot share them directly. Thus, many investigators favour threshold measures of experience (which can be compared across subjects easily), while suprathreshold methods (which are much harder to compare) are met with scepticism. We believe that suprathreshold measures are useful, as they reveal group differences in sensation (e.g., taste, oral burn) that cannot be observed with thresholds. These differences, however, are distorted when scales are used incorrectly. Of particular interest, oral sensory intensity predicts long-term health outcomes (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer risk); these findings are validated by robust differences in oral anatomy, suggesting that valid suprathreshold comparisons convey accurate and meaningful differences in experience.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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