Where Are the Tasting Areas on the Human Tongue?


Quick Answer

Originally, scientists believed that there were taste regions of the tongue responsible for distinguishing between bitter, sweet, sour and salty tastes. However, studies now show that taste differentiation originates in the brain, not in distinct regions of the tongue, as of 2015, according to Scientific American.

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Philosophers such as Aristotle formed theories on the origins of taste. However, research from National Institutes of Health sensory neuroscientist Nick Ryba and his colleagues shows that tastes originate in certain regions of the cerebral cortex inhabited by neurons. These neurons exist in fields. For example, there is a sweet field, a bitter field and other similar fields. Studies using mice simulated tasting different types of food by stimulating the brain. The brain implant consisted of a fiber optic cable and a laser light, pulsing for brain stimulation, states Scientific American.

This study showed that it is possible to taste without use of the tongue, claims Scientific American. If the brain senses the different flavors without actually tasting them, the insular cortex, responsible for the taste section of the brain, triggers a response to that flavor. This mechanism prompted the mice’s sense of taste without actually eating anything. This response method reportedly proves that the brain contains hard-wired perceptions of flavors activated by the brain, not the tongue.

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