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Tickling taste buds thermal way

American scientists have said they can stimulate sweet, sour or salty tastes by manipulating the temperature of the tongue.

By warming or cooling certain areas of the tongue researchers at Yale University in the US can produce "thermal taste" similar to tastes caused by sugars, acids and other chemicals. "We've discovered that specific tastes can be produced by temperature stimulation, just as certain chemicals can evoke only certain taste qualities, ""Barry Green said in a statement Wednesday.

He and his colleague Alberto Cruz showed that nerves on the tongue that respond to chemicals in food are also vulnerable to temperature. But the nerves sensitive to temperature are only found in certain areas of the tongue. Sweetness is usually on the tip of the tongue while a sour taste is on the side and bitterness is in the back, they said in a letter to the science journal Nature.

"Cruz and Green show for the first time that changing the temperature of a small area of the tongue can create the sensation of taste in humans," Robert frank, of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, said in a commentary on the research. Tongue temperature was altered by using a device called a thermal stimulator. Not everyone has thermal taste and some people are more sensitive to some tastes than others. Saltiness is the least common thermal taste. "Thermal taste probably does not affect the taste of most foods and beverages because the temperature conditions that produce it are rarely encountered during eating or drinking, and when they are, the chemical tastes of foods and beverages tend to mask thermal tastes," Green added.

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