Scientists already knew that smell and taste are closely linked in the brain, with smell conveying most of the complex information associated with flavor. But a new article, published online Tuesday, April 24 in the journal Chemical Senses , shows that the two senses also seem to be linked to the surface of the tongue.
Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center , an institution nonprofit research of Philadelphia, cultured human taste cells in the laboratory. These cells contained several important molecules already present in the olfactory cells, that is to say the cells located in the nasal passages and responsible for the perception of odors. And when they exposed the taste cells to scent molecules, the cells reacted like scent cells.
This is the first demonstration of olfactory sensors in human taste cells, although they have been found elsewhere in the body (notably in the gut, sperm and even hair). 9 Ways weird to get a result positive for a drug test].
“The presence of both olfactory and taste receptors in the same cell provides us with interesting possibilities to study the interactions between olfactory and taste stimuli on the tongue,” said Mehmet Hakan Ozdener, lead author of the study, in a press release.
This finding suggests that human taste cells may be more complex than scientists previously thought. Taste is a fairly straightforward sense, which classifies chemicals into at least five categories: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory). Scientists believed that these simple categories of tastes were only integrated with smell (as well as other senses) in the brain. But scientists now know that this integration can happen before sensory input reaches the brain.