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Thinking Before Eating Makes Food More Enjoyable

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It can be hard to resist tearing into a particularly mouthwatering dish of food as soon as it hits the table, but research [PDF] suggests that it might be best to hold on a second.

Under experimental conditions, researchers gave participants very specific instructions on how to consume a chocolate bar:

"Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it."

Compared to participants not given the unwrapping ritual instructions, the test group reported that they enjoyed their eating experience more, would be willing to pay more money for the chocolate bar, and even reported it tasting better.

What does that mean for us non-experimental eaters? It means that taking a minute to really appreciate your food can have a huge impact on how much we end up enjoying it. A true lover of food might pause to take in the aromas of a dish, and the religious might say grace; still others might snap a picture on their phone to upload to their social networks. Any pre-eating ritual should do the trick—as long as you manage not to drool with anticipation in the meantime.

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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