Scientific Evidence Reveals that the Brain Perceives Taste with All Senses
Stony Brook researchers demonstrate that the gustatory cortex can be activated by senses even before tasting
Stony Brook, NY, August 31, 2016 – The phrase “it looks so good you can almost taste it” may actually be scientifically proven based on the findings of a new study by Stony Brook University researchers that explored how the brain processes stimuli predicting taste. They discovered that the gustatory cortex, the part of the brain that mediates the conscious perception of taste, relies on all the senses to anticipate taste. The overall results, published early online in eLife, change the way neuroscientists think about the role of the gustatory cortex.
Dr. Alfredo Fontanini looks at slides of the gustatory cortex, the part of the brain that mediates the perception of taste.
“We found that the gustatory cortex receives information from all the senses, not just taste,” said Alfredo Fontanini, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, a co-author of the study along with Roberto Vincis, a postdoctoral fellow in the department. He summarized that “Not all the non-gustatory stimuli are equally effective in activating the gustatory cortex, those that can easily be linked to taste tend to recruit more neurons. Olfaction is particularly effective.”
In the paper, titled “Associative learning changes cross-modal representations in the gustatory cortex,” the investigators concluded that the gustatory cortex’ ability to represent stimuli of multiple modalities is greatly boosted by learning that they can predict taste.
To learn more about the role of the gustatory cortex and the findings by the Stony Brook researchers, see this video.
About Stony Brook University
Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 25,000 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 universities in the nation and top 40 public universities, and Kiplinger names it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. A global ranking by U.S. News & World Report places Stony Brook in the top 1 percent of institutions worldwide. It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.
Media Relations Manager, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University