TERM DATABASE

Gustative

Last update: September 16, 2022
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By BrainMatters

Gustative means "relating to taste." Gustative receptors are located primarily on the tongue, but also in the cheeks, palate, and pharynx. Taste stimuli, like smell stimuli, are caused by chemical molecules. These molecules must first dissolve in saliva before you can taste them. There are five different receptors for salt, sour, bitter, sweet and umami (for proteins, as in a steak). The receptors transmit stimuli to the primary gustatory cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex.

In addition to taste receptors, another way to taste food is by smell. Through an opening between the back of the mouth and the nose, you can smell the food that is in your mouth. By chewing and swallowing, air from your mouth enters your nose. This air contains odor molecules of the food you are eating. So taste consists not only of "real" taste, but also of smell. That is why it can help to keep your nose closed when you eat something distasteful.

Author: Bart Aben (translated by Melanie Smekal)

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