We all know those foods that caress our taste buds without even putting them in our mouths. With just looking at them or even thinking about them, we know exactly what they will feel like in our mouths. The phrase, “it looks so good you can almost taste it”, according to scientist can be literal. It may actually be scientifically proven based on the recent findings of a study by Stony Brook University researchers that explored how the brain processes stimuli predicting taste. In their findings, which were rather fascinating, they have discovered that the gustatory cortex (the part of the brain that processes the conscious perception of taste) actually relies on all the senses to anticipate taste.
This new discovery which was earlier published online in eLife, change neuroscientists’ way of thinking about the role of the gustatory cortex.
According to Alfredo Fontanini, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, a co-author of the study along with Roberto Vincis, a postdoctoral fellow in the department, “We found that the gustatory cortex receives information from all the senses, not just taste”. He further continues to say that although olfaction is particularly effective, not all the non-gustatory stimuli are as effective in activating the gustatory cortex; those that can, without difficulty, be linked to taste tend to bring in more neurons.
The investigators of this new research went on to conclude in the paper titled “Associative learning changes cross-modal representations in the gustatory cortex”, that the ability of the gustatory cortex to represent stimuli of more than one modality is very much boosted by learning that they can predict taste.
For more information on the findings made by the Stony Brook researchers and to learn more about the role the gustatory cortex plays, watch this video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlf-KOPuUNE&feature=youtu.be