Taste and smell are closely linked. The tongue can only differentiate five flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. But as you eat, odor molecules from the food move through your nasal passages to the olfactory receptor neurons. Each of these is only activated by a specific type of odor, but together, they can convey deeply complex scents and tastes to the brain.
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Key Facts In This Video
All of our senses involve sensory cells that translate stimuli into action potentials, a process called transduction. 00:56
Scientists estimate that humans can identify about 10,000 different smells. 04:39
All tastes register on all parts of the tongue—there are no specialized areas for specific flavors. 07:06