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Physiol Behav. 1986;36(4):619-23.

Chemosensory properties of sour tastants.


In Experiment 1, a taste quality fractionation procedure was used to establish the degree to which sour and non-sour taste sensations are elicited by six concentrations of each of seven acids: citric, hydrochloric, sulfuric, lactic, malic, phosphoric and tartaric. In general, the acids differed significantly in their ability to elicit sour, salty and bitter sensations, with sulfuric and hydrochloric acids producing the smallest proportions of perceived sourness. Bitterness was found to be the largest non-sour sensation produced, followed by saltiness. The perceived taste qualities of the acids were stable across a wide range of concentrations. In Experiment 2 the extent to which the vapors of these test acids produce detectable intranasal non-gustatory sensations at concentration levels used in many human taste experiments was examined. All acids induced clear intranasal sensations at concentration levels used in some suprathreshold taste paradigms. The results suggest that a number of measures of sour taste sensation may be confounded by non-sour chemosensory factors, including intranasal stimulation.

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