Our tongue is a superb organ. It never fails to distinguish between bitter and sweet, sour and salty and the number of tastes we have. But have you wondered what makes your tongue impeccable in this taste-guessing game? A recent study has answered your questions straight. According to it, the signals sent by tongue’s taste cells prevent the brain from confusion between two tastes. Human beings perceive taste through thousands of tiny sensory organs called taste buds, which are placed mostly on the upper surface of the tongue.
Every taste bud contains 50-100 taste cells, which consists of molecules, known as receptors. These receptors can detect each type of taste, ranging from bitter to sour. These taste cells pass on this information from tongue to the brain.
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The scientists used this information to rewire the taste-system of mice to perceive sweet stimuli as bitter tastes and vice versa. The findings provide a new piece of information on how tongue keeps its sense of taste organised, despite the rapid turnover of the cells in its taste buds.
"Most portions of the brain circuits that govern taste are hardwired at birth, except in the tongue, where the cells in our taste buds -- taste receptor cells -- connect to taste neurons," said Hojoon Lee, Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in the US.
"It's a highly dynamic process. Taste cells are replaced every one to three weeks, and one type of receptor may be replaced by a different type. Each time a new taste receptor cell is made, it needs to make the right connection with the brain," Lee added, in the paper detailed in the journal Nature.
When taste receptor cells are produced, the cells most likely express dedicated molecular signals that attract the right complement of taste neurons.
"The taste system gives us a unique opportunity to explore how connections between taste cells and neurons are wired and preserved, in the face of random turnover of our sensory cells" Zuker said.
(With IANS Inputs)