Like a particular taste and hate the other: Well, Blame it on the Brain!

by Medindia Content Team on  January 23, 2006 at 10:17 AM Research News   - G J E 4
Like a particular taste and hate the other: Well, Blame it on the Brain!
Scientists have now linked the liking of a taste to the brain and its neurons. So it is not you who will be blamed if you dislike the bitter gourd but just love the chocolate.

The study that demonstrated this relation was done on fruit fly Drosophila by Kristin Scott and colleagues.

According to their model the brain has special cells which detect specific tastes. Multiple neurons interact in a way as to encode the tastes.

Studies had shown that the Gr5a receptor on taste neurons was essential for response to sugar and that the Gr66a receptor was essential for response to bitter tastes. Still, the question whether neurons selectively detected the different tastes or they generated taste behaviours persisted.

To solve this problem the researchers generated flies with fluorescent labels on their neurons that would signal activation of one or the other type. The answer was that sweet substances selectively switched-on the Gr5a neurons, while a range of bitter substances switched-on the Gr66a neurons. The case was negative vice versa.

"In this paper, we demonstrate that these taste cells selectively recognize different taste modalities, such that there is functional segregation of taste qualities in the periphery and at the first relay in the brain.

Moreover, we show that activation of these different taste neurons is sufficient to elicit different taste behaviors. Thus, activity of the sensory neuron, rather than the receptor, is the arbiter of taste behavior. Our studies argue that animals distinguish different tastes by activation of dedicated neural circuits that dictate behavioral outputs." Was the statement issued by the researchers who were Sunanda Marella, Walter Fischler, Priscilla Kong, Sam Asgarian, and Kristin Scott of the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, CA; Erroll Rueckert of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Columbia University in New York, NY.

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