What does your tongue feel when it tastes like chocolate? Incredible as it may seem, besides the taste, she is also able to smell the candy. A new research was able to find olfactory receptors on the tongue, along with cells that detect the taste. These are the same sensors that are on the nose and are responsible for identifying odors.
The taste of food comes from a combination of taste and smell. Ever tried to eat some food with a stuffed nose? The taste will look much more dull than normal. But science already knew that. What the researchers found is that this relationship is even closer. The interaction between taste and smell begins in the tongue and not in the brain, as was believed.
The olfactory and palate systems have always been considered independent. What the researched r Mehmet Ozdener of the Monell Center (USA) questioned this conception was a question of a 12-year-old child: she wanted to know if snakes would stretch their tongue to smell – and the answer is yes.
The researchers extracted cells from the human tongue and found that in a single cell there may be receptors of both the smell and the taste. In addition, olfactory receptors work similarly on both the tongue and the nose.
And the results clash with other experiments. In an interview with the Guardian , Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford said that in previous studies it was found that people can differentiate one food from another even when their only change is the smell – without using the nose.
Ozdener says the new discovery may help develop methods to shape the taste of food. This can contribute to the decrease in the use of salt, sugar and fat adding a different odor that pleases the palate. He also mentions combating diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
In addition to opening up the opportunity to study the interaction between taste and smell, research may also help to understand how the olfactory system detects the smell. Scientists still do not know which molecules are capable of activating the different types of receptors responsible for smell. Understanding how they work in language is a first step in understanding the olfactory system in all its complexity.