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The sense of taste HTML5


Taste is the sense that enables us to identify the flavors in foods. The principal organ involved in the perception of taste is the tongue. It is covered with gustatory  papillae that contain the sensory receptors  for taste: the taste buds.

This animation shows the three kinds of taste papillae spread around the tongue in specific locations. It also enables the illustration of the transmission of nerve impulses carrying information about taste, from the taste buds to the brain, along nerve fibers.

The specific zones for detection of the four basic flavors  (Bitter, Sour, Salty and Sweet) are not shown on the tongue, as is usually done, because recent studies have shown that things are much more complex than that.


Learning goals

  • To discover the anatomy of the mouth.
  • To illustrate which parts of the tongue play a role in the detection of flavors. (Note: The division of the tongue into zones that detect specific flavors is criticized by scientists.)
  • To understand that the taste of  a food is the result of the presence of specific molecules (sapid molecules) which are liberated when the food dissolves in saliva.
  • To locate the three types of gustatory papillae on the tongue. One also mentions that there are some gustatory papillae on the palate and at the bottom of the throat.
  • To observe gustatory papillae in cross section, as well as the locations of the taste buds and nerve fibers.
  • To observe the detection of the sapid molecules by the taste buds, and the propagation of nerve messages toward the brain, by way of  nerve fibers.



Learn more

In order for us to perceive the tastes of foods we ingest, they must be chewed in the mouth in order to be  soaked in  saliva. The flavorsome molecules in food are then dissolved in the saliva. We…

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