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J Physiol. 1973 Jun;231(2):271-82.

The gustatory sense in foetal sheep during the last third of gestation.


1. Histological studies revealed that presumptive taste buds are present in the foetal sheep tongue at 50 days. By 100 days the taste buds appear morphologically mature.2. To determine if foetal taste buds are functional, electrophysiological recordings were made of activity in the chorda tympani nerve of sheep foetuses. Single and multi-fibre preparations were studied in foetuses aged 100 days to term.3. Responses were recorded to lingual stimulation with salts, acids, glycerol, glycine, sodium saccharin, quinine HCl and amniotic fluid. Responses of the foetal chorda tympani to lingual stimulation with a series of monochloride salts and with increasing concentrations of one salt were similar to responses recorded in lambs and adults.4. The peripheral gustatory system of the foetal sheep is functional for at least the last third of gestation. Foetal taste experiences may influence the formation of adult taste preferences or may aid the foetus in monitoring its environment.

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