Human tongues ‘can actually smell’, scientists say

Rob Waugh

Human tongues can smell, in a manner of speaking: scientists found the same ‘smell sensors’ found in people’s noses are also present in the tongue.

The find suggests that the interaction between smell and taste may actually begin in the tongue, and not in the brain, as previously believed.

Most of us equate flavour with taste, but the distinctive flavor of most foods and drinks comes more from smell than it does from taste.

Researchers kept human taste cells alive in the lab, and found that they contain many of the key molecules found in smell receptors.

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Lead author Mehmet Hakan Ozdener at the Monell Center said, ‘The presence of olfactory receptors and taste receptors in the same cell will provide us with exciting opportunities to study interactions between odor and taste stimuli on the tongue.’

‘Our research may help explain how odor molecules modulate taste perception.

‘This may lead to the development of odor-based taste modifiers that can help combat the excess salt, sugar, and fat intake associated with diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes.’

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