InterJournal Complex Systems, 364
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [364]
Submission Date: 430
How Individual Differences in Taste Input Impact Smell and Flavor Perception - An Example of a Complex Process
Author(s): David Bauer ,Andreina Santi ,Virginia Utermohlen

Subject(s): CX.32

Category: Article


When we perceive the flavor of a food, we actually perceive the result of the brainís analysis of signals from the taste system in the mouth coupled with signals from the olfactory system in the nose. We do not separate taste from smell as we eat -- we only perceive flavor through a complex process of sensor fusion. Sensor fusion is a prerequisite for the full appreciation of flavor -- signals from taste alone or smell alone are inadequate. In the present study, we demonstrate that flavor is the result of a complex interaction between the sensations of taste transmitted through taste buds in the oral epithelium, and the sensations of smell transmitted through the olfactory cells in the olfactory epithelium. At the level of the cortex, taste and smell are fused to provide the sensation of flavor which we then localize to the mouth. In order to understand how this complex interaction may take place, we have taken advantage of the fact that individuals differ in their taste sensitivity to a chemical, 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). We hypothesize that these differences in taste sensitivity may provide a probe for exploring the dynamics of the flavor system.

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