Taste is a perception which results from the simulation of a gustatory nerve. Taste in the mouth belongs to the chemical sensing system, which is caused when a soluble substance comes into contact with the tongue, the cranial nerves conducting impulses relating to taste are the facial nerve for the anterior part of the tongue and the glossopharyngeal nerve for the posterior part. These then transmit messages through the nerves all the way to the brain, and allow us to taste what we consume. Along with the other four senses, which are sight, touch, smell and hearing. Taste provides guidance on what we eat and drink, and henceforth allow us to distinguish between bitterness, sweetness, flavor and acidity, these are the so-called four primary tastes. Smell also contributes to the sense of taste, as does another chemosensory mechanism, called the common chemical sense. In this system thousands of nerve endings, mostly on the moist surfaces of the mouth, nose, eyes and throat give the rising sensation of things such as the sting of ammonia, or the irritation we feel when we consume chili peepers and even the coolness of menthol.


What is taste?

Taste is one of the five main senses and is connected to the sensations arising from the food and drink we consume. The structures that allow you to capture the flavor of what we introduce in the mouth are highly specialized sensory receptors; they are known as glasses, buttons and taste buds, which are found on the tongue, the palate, the pharynx and larynx. The integration of the primary tastes – the perception of which members of a specific groups sensory receptors are located in specific areas of the tongue – originate all the more complex taste sensations.

Although aided by some portions of the palate, larynx and pharynx, the tongue is specifically dedicated to the perceptions of flavors. On its surface you can in fact distinguish specific areas delegated to the perception of bitterness, sourness, sweetness and saltiness, these are the four main tastes. Specifically, the deputies to the perception of the sweet receptors are concentrated at the tip of the tongue, those for the perception of bitter tastes are on the other base of the tongue or the part lying posteriorly, in front of the epiglottis, those able to recognize salty tastes are located on the edges of the first front half of the tongue, and those for the recognition of acidic tastes are instead on the edges of the rear half.

In the perception of flavors it is essential, in addition to the four senses of taste, that the role of the olfactory system. During expiration, in fact some particles of food placed in the mouth are expelled from the nose and got to stimulate the olfactory receptors, and thus contribute to the identification of different tastes.


What function does taste serve?

In addition to providing information on the taste and composition of food, the sense of taste plays a vital role in nutrition, the evocation of flavors is in fact the basic psychological appetite. Loss of taste may have different causes (loss of smell, the presence of oral disease or hormonal) and also impact on the psychological well-being, which may lead to depression.