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Adv Otorhinolaryngol. 2006;63:152-190. doi: 10.1159/000093760.

Human taste: peripheral anatomy, taste transduction, and coding.

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Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, Pa., USA.


The anatomy, physiology and psychology of taste provide a glimpse into a uniquely heterogeneous sensory world; a world that is robust in its importance to flavor, redundant in its transductive heterogeneity and complexity, requisite in that feeding and hence life usually depend upon taste input, regenerative in that taste cells constantly turn over and regrow after tissue damage, and resistant to disease, loss of neural innervation and epithelial destruction. This chapter considers our current state of knowledge in anatomy, taste bud physiology, molecular biology of bitter, sweet, sour, savory and salty tastes, afferent signaling and quality coding, human perception, and pathophysiology and senescence of taste. We highlight some of the advances made in molecular biology of taste and point out areas where further research is needed ranging from taste bud development and regeneration, to within-taste bud processing, to central/perceptual coding networks for taste. Our hope is that this chapter will provide a background for greater understanding of taste physiology, perception, disease, and future sensory research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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