Taste Is Mostly Smell

Taste Is Mostly Smell

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.

10:30

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    All of our senses involve sensory cells that translate stimuli into action potentials, a process called transduction. (0:56)

  • 2

    Scientists estimate that humans can identify about 10,000 different smells. (4:39)

  • 3

    All tastes register on all parts of the tongue—there are no specialized areas for specific flavors. (7:06)

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