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Chem Senses. 2005 Nov;30(9):719-26. Epub 2005 Oct 12.

Qualitative differences of divalent salts: multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Sensations from salts of iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc with different anions were studied using a sorting task and multidimensional scaling (MDS). Ten divalent salts were adjusted in concentrations such that the mean intensity ratings were approximately equal. Stimuli were sorted on the basis of similarity to minimize any semantic influence and were examined with and without nasal occlusion to eliminate retronasal cues. Compounds representing the four primary tastes and astringency were also sorted. Similarity estimates were derived from sorting and were submitted to MDS. Divalent salts fell outside the area of the space defined by the four primary tastes. The nose-open condition showed that some of the divalent salts have unique metallic sensations along with astringency. The groupings obtained were corroborated using single-linkage cluster analysis. An iron group was most distinctive in metallic sensations; calcium and magnesium salts were primarily bitter; and zinc salts were characterized by astringency. When nasal cues were not available, the sensations from the divalent salts were mainly explained by bitterness and astringency. Results were consistent with a previous evaluation of divalent salts using descriptive analysis.

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