Sense of Taste
Gustation, which most of us know as taste, is a sense that uses chemoreception. In order for taste to take place something has to be touching the tongue. We can have 4 primary tastes; sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Some experts believe we can also taste fatty acids which would explain our like for fatty foods. Umami is the 6th taste that is not well classified and is still controversial. It is the taste of salts of glutamic asic, e.g. MSG (monosodium glutamate). By using these tastes we can create an unlimited variety of combinations of tastes.
Taste receptors are located on our taste buds. Each taste bud contains 50-100 taste cells. Contrary to what was believed from years ago, the tongue does not have separate areas for the various tastes. Each taste bud can sense all 4-6 primary tastes.
Each taste receptor cell is connected to a sensory neuron which takes the signal to the brain.
Just like other senses there are also taste disorders. These include; ageusia which is no taste at all. Hypogeusia which is a partial loss. parageusia which is an unpleasant taste. And dysgeusia which refers to an incorrect taste.
Taste ability can vary from person to person. Some things that may affect taste are; age, hormones, genetics, medications, upper respiratory infections, and temperature.
Super tasters are people who have a heightened sense of taste, more so than the average person. Women are more likely to be super tasters. Some races, e.g. Asians, Africans, and South Americans are more likely to be super tasters as well.
Acquired taste refers to a situation where the taste of a product is unpleasant until one becomes accustomed to it.