Tongue Sensitivity and the Sense of Taste
There are five senses which people are able to possess; the sense of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. The sense of taste may be the weakest of the five senses, but it is very important, as it helps us to perceive flavors and distinguish what it is we taste. A series of taste buds and nerves in the tongue help by sending messages to the brain which helps us to recognize the taste of food and drinks. Taste buds are located on the tongue as well as the roof of the mouth. Taste buds are grouped into small mounds called papillae, which each include a number of receptor cells. These receptor cells are connected to nerves in the tongue which send signals to the brain which cause us to sense certain types of taste. Different senses of taste are located on certain parts of the tongue. Nerves which are located in front of the tongue signal “sweet” taste bud receptors. Behind those nerves are another set of taste bud receptors which signal “salty” taste. Located in the back of the tongue are the taste bud receptors which signal the taste of “sour” and “bitter”. The intensity of taste differs from person to person. It is important to also acknowledge that the sense of smell also influences our sense of taste.
Scientists already know that people may have high taste sensitivity, moderate taste sensitivity, or low taste sensitivity. People who have high taste sensitivity will also tend to have a strong sense of smell as well. There are methods which can be used which can help to determine a person’s sensitivity to taste. One type of method used by researchers involves a chemical called 6-n-propylthiouracil, or PROP. During taste testing, a tiny amount is distributed and the taste tester will react depending on the sensitivity of their taste buds. People who have a strong sense of taste describe the taste of PROP as being very bitter, whereas people who have a mild sense of taste will not taste anything at all....
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