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Chem Senses. 2000 Apr;25(2):181-7.

Selective removal of a target stimulus localized by taste in humans.

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  • 1Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3500 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Recent studies have shown that people can localize a punctate gustatory stimulus on the lingual epithelium in the absence of discriminative tactile cues. The present studies examined the human ability to localize taste sensations on the tongue and to use this information to remove selectively a target stimulus (a flavored, 1 cm(3) gelatin cube) from the mouth when presented with non-target distractors that vary in number and taste. Findings indicate that humans are capable of localizing and removing either an aversive or an appetitive gustatory target from a field of tactile distractors via taste sensations alone, although this ability diminishes as the number of distractors increases (implicating serial searches, rather than parallel). In addition, humans can localize and selectively remove a target taste in the presence of distractors of another distinct taste quality. Under these conditions performance is either unaffected or reduced, which indicates that contrast with the distinct taste of the distractors does not enhance performance. Humans also are capable of removing a nearly tasteless cube from a field of flavored distractors, but this is clearly a more difficult task, suggesting that 'tactile capture' of taste occurs for the tasteless target cube and interferes with the localization of taste. Finally, perceived suprathreshold stimulus intensity did not seem to be related to the ability to localize and remove a target stimulus via taste sensations and failed to account for variations in performance across individuals.

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