A fun lab for identifying which areas of the tongue are most sensitive for specific foods. This lab does not specify which foods to use, but I always use lemon juice (sour), pretzels (salty), hard candy (sweet), and bakers chocolate (bitter).
ame: _______________________________ Period: ____________________ The Tongue and Taste Buds Background When you put a bite of food in your mouth, it starts to dissolve. This action of the saliva in your mouth is just the first step in activating your sense of taste. Your teeth also help you to taste foods, by breaking up the big pieces so that they can dissolve quicker. Next, the taste is picked up by your taste buds. You have about 10,000 of these. The taste buds send the message to the brain, by way of nerves and electrical signals. The brain interprets these signals as tastes. 2 Besides your brain, the main organ of taste is, of course, your tongue. The tongue is made up of groups of muscles. These muscles allow the tongue to move in all directions to eat, and also to form sounds to talk. Most of your taste buds are on your tongue, but there are also some taste buds in other parts of your mouth. The taste buds on your tongue are all around the sides, but not in the middle. 3 The taste buds on the tongue pick up just four or five main tastes. The four traditional tastes are sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Scientists are also studying a fifth taste, which they have names umami. Some of the tastes seem to be concentrated on a particular area of the tongue. Sweet tastes, such as sugar or honey, are tasted mainly on the front of the tongue. Sour tastes, like lemons, are tasted on the sides. Salty tastes, such as potato chips or fries, are tasted all around the edges of the tongue. Bitter is tasted on the back of the tongue. Bitter is like the taste of unsweetened chocolate. Most people don't like bitter tastes much. Maybe you have heard a coffee drinker complain about a cup of bitter coffee. Umami is the most recently discovered taste. It is sometimes described as a meaty or savory taste. It is the taste that is provided by monosodium glutamate (MSG) that is sometimes added to Chinese food. 4 There are a big variety of opinions about which foods taste good. It seems to depend mainly on the culture in which a person was brought up. People in some cultures eat only a vegetarian menu, and think that it would be really awful to eat a lobster or a cow. Other people eat beef and seafood all the time, but wouldn't think of eating a fried grasshopper, which is a treat in some places. Educational Resource written by James Dauray | http://www.aurumscience.com 1 Name: _______________________________ Period: ____________________ The Tongue and Taste Buds You will attempt to find which areas of your tongue have the most taste buds for certain types of foods. The four main types are: - Sweet - Sour - Bitter - Salty Take one of the four types of food provided and touch it to each of the four areas of the tongue showed in the diagram below. Write on the diagram which part of the tongue tasted that food the strongest. After you try one type of food, have a drink of water to cleanse your taste buds and repeat with the other three. Back of Tongue Front of Tongue Educational Resource written by James Dauray | http://www.aurumscience.com 2 Questions 1. Classify each of the four foods as salty, bitter, sweet, or sour. 2. Which area of your tongue do you believe is most sensitive to each of the four types of food? 3. Read the background page. What areas of the tongue are supposed to have the most taste buds for each type of taste? Were your results any different? If so, why do you think they were? 4. What is the possible newly discovered fifth taste? What kinds of food is it found in? 5. Are there any areas of the tongue without taste buds? 6. What other sense is involved in detecting tastes? Educational Resource written by James Dauray | http://www.aurumscience.com 3
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