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J Neurophysiol. 2003 Jul;90(1):313-9.

Representation of umami taste in the human brain.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3UD, United Kingdom.


Umami taste stimuli, of which an exemplar is monosodium glutamate (MSG) and which capture what is described as the taste of protein, were shown using functional MRI (fMRI) to activate similar cortical regions of the human taste system to those activated by a prototypical taste stimulus, glucose. These taste regions included the insular/opercular cortex and the caudolateral orbitofrontal cortex. A part of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was also activated. When the nucleotide 0.005 M inosine 5'-monophosphate (IMP) was added to MSG (0.05 M), the blood oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) signal in an anterior part of the orbitofrontal cortex showed supralinear additivity; this may reflect the subjective enhancement of umami taste that has been described when IMP is added to MSG. These results extend to humans previous studies in macaques showing that single neurons in these taste cortical areas can be tuned to umami stimuli.

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