Brain’s taste secrets uncovered
Based on BBC Health and Nature
Summary and review of the above article
A study at Columbia University has demonstrated the specialised nature of neurons related to taste. The tongue has about 8,000 taste buds. Each bud is able to respond to the full range of salty, bitter, sour, sweet and umami. However, these versatile taste buds in fact contain specialised cells which respond to only one of these tastes. It was found that stimuli acting on the specialised cells in the taste bud activated particular neurons in the brain that responded to particular tastes rather than a multiple range of tastes.
This finding corresponds to other findings relative to the specialisation of sensory neurons. For instance neurons in the higher visual system respond only to a limited range of inputs, for instances of actors or famous buildings, and do not respond at all to other images.