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Science of taste

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

The science behind taste

Taste is mainly associated with the tongue along with the oral cavity. The taste that we sense is due to the interaction of the food molecules with the test buds which are found on three kinds of papillae throughout the surface of the tongue.

Now what are these taste buds? A taste bud is a pack or bundle of taste receptor cells. These cells together form a shape like a flower bud or an orange that’s why they are called taste buds.  There is a taste pore at the top of a taste bud and through which it receives the taste stimuli or taste ligands. Each bud consists of about 10 to 15 taste receptor cells. Taste receptors interact with the taste stimuli, or ligands and generate a signal transmitted to the brain and results in taste perception.

Sensitivity of the tongue to the basic tastes varies with the areas of it, with sweet largely in the front, bitter in the back, and salty and sour on the sides. There are about 5,000 taste buds found in our oral cavity Most of the taste buds are on the tongue. But there are also cells that detect taste elsewhere inside the oral cavity: in the back of the throat, epiglottis, the nasal cavity, and even in the upper part of the esophagus


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Dermer, O. C. (2015, February). The science of taste. In Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science (Vol. 27, pp. 9-20).

Lindemann, B., Ogiwara, Y., & Ninomiya, Y. (2002). The discovery of umami. Chemical senses27(9), 843-844. Yamaguchi, S., & Ninomiya, K. (1998). What is umami?. Food Reviews International14(2-3), 123-138

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