Taste sensing brain areas mapped for first time

Washington: Each taste, from sweet to salty, is sensed by a set of neurons in the brain. Now scientists have mapped for the first time how taste is represented in the mammalian brain.

The sweetness of a ripe peach or the saltiness of a potato chip is unmistakable, partly due to highly specialised tongue cells that detect each unique taste, the journal Science reports.

Now, Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have showed that four of our basic tastes -- sweet, bitter, salty, and "umami" or savoury -- are also processed by distinct areas of the brain, according to an institute statement.

"This work further reveals coding in the taste system," said Howard Hughes investigator Charles S. Zuker.

"The way that we perceive the sensory world has been something that`s fascinated humanity throughout our whole existence," said Nicholas J.P. Ryba of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research who collaborated with Zuker.

"What is a taste, really? It`s the firing of a set of neurons in the brain, and that`s what we want to understand," Ryba added.


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