In this activity, students discover that the sense of taste can be tricked when they are given identical-looking jellybeans and asked to describe the flavours.
Some flavors are easy to guess, while others are unexpected and therefore difficult to guess. This is because when we attempt to recognize the unexpected flavours, we must access memories of tastes that include things like tandoori chicken, hot fudge sundaes and salmon sushi as well as items we haven’t tasted such barf or baby wipes.
The tongue and the roof of the mouth are covered with thousands of tiny taste buds. When food rubs against the taste buds, it causes the sensation we call taste. When you eat something, the saliva in your mouth helps break down the food. This causes the receptor cells located in your tastes buds (gustatory receptor cells) to send messages through sensory nerves to your brain. Your brain then tells you the different flavours you have tasted.
Taste buds can recognize five basic kinds of tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and the newly discovered “umami” (savoury). All taste sensations come from all regions of the tongue and are not confined to specific regions (a tongue map) as once thought. A single taste bud contains 50–100 taste cells representing all 5 taste types.
Everyone's tastes are different. Foods do not taste the same to everyone. Taste is probably the most subjective of the senses.
Tastes change as we age. Babies have taste buds, not only on the tongue, but also on the sides and roof of the mouth. This means that they are very sensitive to different foods.
As we grow, the taste buds began to disappear from the sides and roof of the mouth, leaving taste buds mostly on the tongue. As we get older, taste buds become less sensitive, so we will be more likely to eat foods that we thought were too strong as a child. In general, girls have more taste buds than boys.
People with taste disorders or even smell disorders have distorted taste or no sense of taste at all. Things like medications, smoking, not getting enough of the right vitamins, injury to the head, brain tumors, chemical exposure, and the effects of radiation can cause taste disorders. This can lead to a loss of appetite, anxiety, and a low quality of life. Most of us enjoy eating and love tasting delicious food – imagine not being able to taste the food you love! Food poisoning is also more likely because the person cannot taste whether or not something is wrong with the food.