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NeurogastronomyHow the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters$
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Gordon Shepherd

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231159111

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231159111.001.0001

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Taste and Flavor

Taste and Flavor

(p.117) Chapter Thirteen Taste and Flavor

Gordon M. Shepherd

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the taste system, the most obvious sensory system contributing to “taste”, and the one that gets all the credit for the resulting flavor. This system begins with stimulation by food and drink of the taste buds on the tongue and the back of the mouth. Taste buds contain cells that respond differentially to five kinds of stimuli: salts, acids, sugars, bitter compounds, and the amino acid glutamate. Each type of stimulus acts preferentially on a special type of receptor. Unlike the olfactory receptor cells, the receptor cells in the taste bud have no axons to carry their responses to the brain. How the different kinds of taste are represented in the brain has stimulated two basic views. One view, the labeled line theory, is that each type of stimulus has its labeled line into the brain, leading to its distinct perception. The other view is that a nerve fiber tends to respond best to one type of taste stimulus, but that it also responds to two or three of the others to less of an extent. This is called an across-fiber pattern and indicates that there is a limited kind of combinatorial processing of the taste input.

Keywords:   taste, taste system, flavor, sensory systems, taste buds, human brain

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