Our sense of taste provides the final analysis of food prior to its ingestion and uptake into the body. We are attracted or repelled by visual and olfactory signals of food but once in the mouth only the gustatory sense tells us to spit or to swallow. Bitter and sour tastes induce aversive reactions, indicating toxicity or harm, whereas sweet and savory tastes usually keep their promise of calorie-and nutrient-rich foods. In addition, olfactory and gustatory inputs are integrated with visual, vi…

Specific taste receptor proteins on the surface of the tongue (shown enlarged as a green cylindrical model) are crucial for determination of food taste. These proteins act like a lock, which is opened by a specific “taste key.” Upon stimulation of the receptor by foodborne tastant molecules, a neuronal signal is generated. This gustatory stimulation is projected into defined cortical areas in the brain, resulting in a taste perception. Interestingly, the same receptors are found in the gut, where they presumably initiate a metabolic response to the food presented.

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