Our sense of taste has evolved to encourage the consumption of nutrients, and to avoid the ingestion of dangerous substances. However, today, the positive experience of sweet and salty taste can lead to overconsumption, and detrimental effects on health. Conversely, bitterness and acidity can also prevent some individuals from consuming healthier foods such as bitter tasting green vegetables.
There are 5 basic tastes: sweet, salt, bitter, acid and umami. Research has also suggested that other ‘tastes’ my exist, in particular ‘fat’ and ‘metallic’. Up until recently it was thought that fat and metallic are perceived by textural receptors in our mouths but a growing body of evidence suggests that taste receptors may also be responsible.
A misinterpretation of data in the 19th century led to many of us being taught at school that we sense each of the tastes on different parts of our tongue. However, we’ve known for many years that this is all wrong. Learn more about how we sense taste.
In this research, we will give samples of each of the tastants (sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami) to people to taste and we will record the location of activation in the taste cortex part of the brain to create a Taste Map. This can be done by using ultra high resolution functional magnetic resonance brain imaging.
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