Combined with sight, smell, touch and hearing, taste represents one of the five senses . It provides information on the flavor of what we eat and drink, distinguishing sweetness, bitterness, flavor and acidity (the so-called primary tastes).
What is taste?
It is one of the five senses and it is the one connected to the sensations that derive from the taste of what we eat and drink .
The structures that allow you to grasp the flavor of what is introduced into the mouth are highly specialized sensorial receptors : they are called buttons, calices and taste buds and are found on the palate, tongue, pharynx and larynx. From the integration of primary tastes – to the perception of which specific groups of sensory receptors that are positioned in specific areas of the tongue are responsible – all the most complex taste sensations originate.
Although it is supported by some portions of the larynx, pharynx and palate, the tongue is the organ that is specifically dedicated to the perception of flavors .
On its surface it is possible to distinguish specific areas that are assigned to the perception of acid, bitter, sweet and salty . In particular, the receptors assigned to the perception of sweetness are concentrated on the tip of the tongue ; those able to recognize the salty are instead placed on the edges of the first front half of the tongue ; those for the perception of bitterness are located on the base of the tongue (that is, the part placed posteriorly, in front of the epiglottis) and those for the acid are finally on the edges of the posterior half .
In the perception of flavors, the role played by the olfactory system is fundamental – in addition to the sense of taste : during expiration , in fact, some particles of the food that are introduced into the mouth are expelled from the nose and go to stimulate the olfactory receptors, who take part in identifying the different tastes.
What is taste for?
In addition to providing information about the flavor and composition of food , the sense of taste plays a decisive role in nutrition : the evocation of flavors is in fact the psychological basis of appetite . Loss of taste – a condition known by the name of ageusia – can have multiple causes (presence of oral or hormonal pathologies, loss of smell) and also significantly affect psychological well-being , even leading to depression .