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J Dent Res. 2005 Mar;84(3):250-4.

Influence of bitter taste on mastication pattern.

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Station de Recherches sur la Viande, INRA-Theix. 63122 Saint Genes-Champanelle, France.


Mastication is a rhythmic activity that can be modified by peripheral information generated in the mouth. To study whether taste cognition could influence the way in which a food is broken down in the mouth, subjects masticated firm, sugar-based gelatine gels with differing concentrations of quinine, up to 1500 micromol/kg, while electromyography (EMG) of masticatory muscles was recorded. Taste intensity and composition of saliva were measured. With increasing quinine concentration, the average number of chews for nine subjects decreased from 30 to 22, and their average clearance time increased from 7 to 14 sec. Quinine concentration had no effect on chewing frequency (1.3 Hz) or on the rate of salivation (5.5 g/min). Bitterness increased, while acceptability and sweetness decreased, with increasing concentration of quinine in the gel and in saliva. Taste cognition could therefore modify food breakdown in the mouth.

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