What Is the Function of the Human Tongue?

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The human tongue performs a crucial role in the ability to speak as well as in chewing and swallowing food. The tongue is a strong muscular organ anchored to the back of the mouth at the hyoid bone.

The structure of the tongue leads to an understanding of its functions. The moist pink tissue that covers the muscle of the tongue is known as mucosa. Thousands of taste buds cover the surface; these act as nerves and connect the tongue through the nervous system to the brain. All parts of the tongue are able to detect the major tastes, which include salty, sweet, bitter and sour, as it helps to chew food efficiently and pass it down the digestive tract.

The action of the tongue is different depending on its function. When eating, for example, the action of the tongue is relatively strong. In speech, however, the tongue is more relaxed, and its action is quicker. More delicate control of the tongue allows for the many nuances of speech. As such, the tongue acts in concert with the ear as it hears the sound and then the tongue can fine-tune it. The functions of the tongue are complex and require a relatively wide range of motion and control.