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Lawrence Marks, PhD

Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist in Epidemiology (Environmental Health Sciences)

Research Summary

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.

Extensive Research Description

  • Mechanisms of Multisensory Flavor Identification
  • Interactions of Cognitive and Sensory Processes in Flavor Perception

Research Interests

Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms; Cognition; Psycholinguistics; Psychophysics; Sensory Thresholds; Olfactory Perception; Taste Perception

Public Health Interests

Environmental Health

Selected Publications

  • Weak synesthesia in the general populationMarks, L.E. (2013). In J. Simner and E. Hubbard (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 761-789.
  • Synesthesia: Then and nowMarks, L.E. (2017). Synesthesia: Then and now. In O. Deroy (Ed.), Sensory Blending: On Synaesthesia and Related Phenomena. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 13-44.
  • Synesthesia: A teeming multiplicityMarks, L.E. (2014). Synesthesia: A teeming multiplicity. In E. Cardeña, S.J. Lynn, & S.C. Krippner (Eds.), Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence, Revised Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 79-108.