Blocked nose does play spoilsport with taste buds

Updated: Dec 23, 2009, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: Have a blocked nose? Surely, the yummiest food tastes awful. Latest research validates the belief that a blocked nose plays spoilsport with one`s taste buds, stripping food of flavours.

Scientists have proved that olfactory sense influences the perception of taste.

Neuro-scientist Don Katz, who led a team of Brandeis University researchers in conducting experiments on rats, said: "We discovered that rats use their taste system to smell with, so when you knock out the taste cortex, even for an hour, as we did, you alter their sense of smell."

Katz and colleagues tested the interdependence of the taste and olfactory systems.

At the outset they predicted that the rat`s sense of smell would not be affected by changes in its taste system. "But we were wrong," said Katz.

They concluded that the "smell test" of rat`s breath was a good enough cue for them to prefer one food over another.

"We discovered in this experiment that the sensory systems don`t work in isolation from each other," said Katz, according to a Brandeis release.

"One part of the cortex takes direct input from the nose, and one part from the tongue, and while it`s convenient to think that the nose and taste receptors operate independently, they don`t," he adds.

The study appeared this week in Nature Neuroscience.