School of Biosciences
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How we sense taste 

When a food or drink is consumed, the sapid molecules dissolve into the saliva and enter the taste pore of the taste bud on the tongue.

Taste buds are distributed across the tongue on little raised protrusions called papillae; you can see these if you look closely at your own tongue or someone else's. There are three types of papillae that contain taste buds, circumvallate, foliate and fungiform. The number of papillae each of us has varies between individuals. Circumvallate papillae are the largest of the papillae located on the back of the tongue and are innervated by the glossopharyngeal nerve. Foliate papillae are ridges and grooves towards the posterior part of the tongue and are innervated by the facial and glossopharyngeal nerve. Fungiform papillae are mushroom shaped, present most densely at the tip of the tongue and are innervated by the facial nerve. Research has linked a higher number of fungiform papillae on the tip of our tongue with higher taste sensitivity. 


Each papillae houses lots of taste buds and within each taste bud there are between 50 – 150 taste receptor cells. Each taste bud has a taste pore which allows taste molecules to enter the taste bud when you eat or drink. Recent research suggests that each taste receptor cell is specifically ‘tuned’ to one specific taste. Once activated by a taste, the receptor cell sends information to the gustatory cortex in the brain via the afferent nerve (glossopharyngeal or facial). 

Using ultra high field strength functional magnetic resonance brain imaging techniques, project TasteMap will look closely at the gustatory cortex and map where the five basic tastes are processed…something never been done before!

Please watch the video demonstrating the details below:


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