The tongue does not capture the flavors as you think

The famous “gustatory map” or “tongue map”, in which we can locate different regions of the tongue responsible for registering different flavors, is not true.

Although many manuals published in the last 70 years mention it, the idea that we all perceive sweetness on the tip of the tongue, bitterness on the back, acidity on the sides, etc. it is nothing more than a misconception and so widespread due to a mistranslation of the conclusions of an old German doctoral thesis.

The translation of the cited thesis appeared in a popular psychology manual written by Edwin Boring in 1942. What the original research pointed out was that the human tongue has areas of relative sensitivity to different flavors, not that each flavor could only be detected in a zone.

Although the taste receptors are not evenly distributed on the tongue, they are not perfectly grouped either as the “tongue map” shows us. In reality, things run somewhere between the two extremes.

Each taste bud is sensitive to the five basic tastes, but they are found primarily on the front of the tongue, on the sides and towards the back, as well as on the back itself.

“In the rest of the tongue, there are simply no taste buds”, as the expert Charles Spence settles in his book Gastrophysics The New Science of Food.

In 1974, the scientist Virginia Collings investigated the subject again, confirming that different primary tastes can be detected across all regions of the tongue, with the intensity of the flavor detected by each region of the tongue differing.

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