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January 26, 2015 AT 4:00 am

Spicy flavors and your tongue

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From BBC Future‘s Veronique Greenwood:

When you consider the tongue, what leaps to mind are the five canonical tastes – sweet, salt, bitter, sour, and umami. These sensations arise when receptors on the surface of taste bud cells are activated by your food, triggering nerve fibres that run to your brain and help generate the experience of a savoury roast or a fresh strawberry. But your tongue is more versatile than that. It’s also sensitive to temperature, pressure, and chemicals that mimic both of these things, which turn up in a number of foods. This peculiar latter group of sensations is called chemesthesis, and you probably experience some flavour of it every day.

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