When Hot Is Cold – how temperature effects taste – Brief Article
If you’ve ever thought ice cream tasted salty, you’ve experienced “thermal taste,” a scientific oddity explored in a recent issue of Nature.
Barry Green, Ph.D., an otolaryngology professor at the Yale School of Medicine, discovered that changing the tongue’s temperature can affect taste sensations. Two-thirds of his 24 test subjects detected different taste sensations when their tongues were cooled or warmed: When cooled, the tongue’s sides detected sourness, while the rear identified bitterness.
How thermal taste works is a mystery, but the phenomenon reveals one certainty about how the brain codes taste: “No matter how you activate a taste nerve–by food or by hot or cold stimulation–the brain still interprets the sensation as taste,” explains Robert Frank, Ph.D., a University of Cincinnati psychology professor and taste perception expert. But it seems thermal taste plays a weak role in food appreciation, so don’t expect ambitious chefs to tinker with food temperatures any time soon.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Sussex Publishers, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group