Professor Marks develops quantitative, psychophysical models to account for sensory and perceptual responses to environmental stimuli. His current research is directed in particular at elucidating the mechanisms by which perceptual systems combine information from multiple sensory modalities and by which cognitive processes then modify and modulate perceptual information. Of special interest are the mechanisms of multisensory integration and interaction involved in the perception of flavors. The flavors of foods and beverages come partly from molecules that stimulate gustatory (taste) receptors on the tongue, but importantly – often most importantly – from molecules that stimulate olfactory receptors in the nose. Cognitive processes are also important, as flavor perception depends not only on sensory signals, but also, for example, on verbal labels, which modulate expectations, and on processes underlying perceptual decision-making, The perception of flavor is a critical factor controlling the intake of food. And the intake of food, in turn, is critical to the energy balance of the body, a topic central to the current mission of the John B. Pierce Laboratory.
Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms; Cognition; Psycholinguistics; Psychophysics; Sensory Thresholds; Olfactory Perception; Taste Perception