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Chem Senses. 2004 Sep;29(7):617-28.

'Thermal taste' predicts higher responsiveness to chemical taste and flavor.

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The John B. Pierce Laboratory, 290 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


Individual differences in taste perception have been explained in part by variations in peripheral innervation associated with the genetic ability to taste the bitter substances PTC and PROP. In the present study we report evidence of another source of individual differences that is independent of taste stimulus, taste quality, or gustatory nerve. Individuals who perceived taste from thermal stimulation alone (thermal taste) gave significantly higher taste ratings to chemical stimuli--often by a factor of >2:1--than did individuals who perceived no taste from thermal stimulation. This was true for all taste stimuli tested (sucrose, saccharin, sodium chloride, citric acid, quinine sulfate, MSG and PROP), for all three gustatory areas of the mouth (anterior tongue, posterior tongue and soft palate) and for whole-mouth stimulation. Moreover, the same individuals reported stronger sensations from the olfactory stimulus vanillin, particularly when it was sensed retronasally. The generality of the thermal-taster advantage and its extension to an olfactory stimulus suggests that it arises from individual differences in CNS processes that are involved in perception of both taste and flavor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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