Friday, 23 September 2011

Taste perception

Level 3Chen et al. A gustotopic map of taste qualities in the mammalian brain. Science. 2011 Sep 2;333(6047):1262-6.

Taste is one of our fundamental senses, responsible for detecting and responding to sweet, bitter, umami, salty, and sour stimuli. In the tongue, the five basic tastes are mediated by separate classes of taste receptor cells each finely tuned to a single taste quality. These investigators explored the logic of taste coding in the brain by examining how sweet, bitter, umami, and salty qualities are represented in the primary taste cortex of mice. They used in vivo two-photon calcium imaging to demonstrate topographic segregation in the functional architecture of the gustatory cortex. Each taste quality is represented in its own separate cortical field, revealing the existence of a gustotopic map in the brain. These results expose the basic logic for the central representation of taste perception.

Gustatory cortical map in the mouse: bitter (red), salty (orange), umami (yellow), and sweet (green) taste in the mouse gustatory cortex.

"This findings of this paper are not surprising considering how other primary sensory cortices are laid out. Despite this the findings are proving quite controversial."

"What about the neurology of taste? Are you all up to speed on gustatory seizures, ageusia (complete loss of taste), hypogeusia (diminished sense of taste), hypergeusia (enhanced gustatory sensitivity), dysgeusia (qualitative gustatory disturbance relating to a distorted taste perception or to a persistent taste sensation in the absence of stimulation) and phantogeusia (taste phantoms)?"

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