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Taste - A Sensory Playground

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"...
smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose..
..
" - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The human mouth is brilliantly designed to separate various tastes and determine the acceptability of the introduced taste.
The human mouth has about 10,000 taste buds.
Each of those taste buds have between 50-100 taste cells that can identify each of the five tastes known to mankind.
The taste cells send information to the brain that accepts the information as either a sensation of pleasure or disgust.
Five Tastes Sweet - Two different sweetness receptors are needed to detect the presence of sweetness, but when detected this taste generally provides a pleasant sensation in the brain.
Sour - This reaction uses an ion channel to accept protons released by the acid in sour substances.
Bitter - Type 2 taste receptors along with G-protein gustducin allow the human tongue to experience bitter tastes.
While some bitter tastes indicate a product that may be poisonous other products such as coffee can be both bitter and mildly beneficial.
Umami - Aged foods such as cheese, broth and meat can contain the taste of umami.
This taste is often associated with the use of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and provides a savory taste that is enhanced with the use of salt.
Salty - This reaction uses ion channels to funnel the salt through the taste bud.
This taste often works in concert with Umami tastes.
The Scent Connection As our opening quote notes there is a 'composite sense' of both taste and scent that allows taste to be a more robust experience.
If you were to hold your nose and eat a small bit of apple, onion and potato you would likely find little difference between the two.
However, when scent is combined with taste you can tell an enormous difference that goes beyond texture.
Perhaps this is why children often hold their nose while eating something they find distasteful.
Multi-purpose The tongue has taste buds on both the top and bottom.
While this allows for a great variety of taste sensations the tongue is also used in the development of speech.
Without the tongue language would be much more difficult to achieve.
When using evolution to define the tongue it is hard to bypass the fact that the tongue defines taste for the brain and is instrumental in speech patterns.
The theory of evolution takes an enormous leap of faith to assume this is a simple result of time and chance.
Perhaps the tongue looks designed because it is designed.
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