Thermal taster status: Temperature modulation of cortical response to sweetness perception

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Elsevier Inc
(c) 2020 The Author/s
CC BY 4.0
Temperature is known to impact taste perception, but its reported effect on sweet taste perception in humans is inconsistent. Here, we assess whether thermal taste phenotype alters the temperature modulation of the brains' response to sweet samples and sweet taste perception. Participants (n = 24 balanced for thermal tasters (TT) and thermal non-tasters (TnT), 25 ± 7 years (mean ± SD), 10 males) underwent a thermal taste phenotyping session to study responses to cooling and warming of the tongue using a thermode. In a separate session, functional Magnetic Resonance Images (fMRI) were collected during sweet samples (87 mM sucrose) delivery at two temperatures ('cold' (5 ± 2 °C) and 'ambient' (20 ± 2 °C)) and the perceived sweetness intensity rated.In the phenotyping session, TTs had heightened perceptual temperature sensitivity to cooling and warming of the tongue using a thermode compared to TnTs. Although there was no significant effect during the fMRI session, the fMRI response to the 'cold sweet' sample across all participants was significantly increased in anterior insula/frontal operculum and mid-insula compared to the 'ambient sweet' sample, likely to reflect the perceptual difference to temperature rather than taste perception. TTs showed significantly increased fMRI activation patterns compared with TnTs and an interaction effect between thermal taster status and sample temperature, with TTs showing selectively greater cortical responses to 'cold sweet' samples compared to TnTs in somatosensory regions (SI and SII).The increase in cortical activation in somatosensory cortices to the 'cold sweet' stimulus correlated with perceptual ratings of temperature sensitivity to the thermode. The results highlight the importance of investigating the effects of thermal taster phenotype across a range of temperatures representing the reality of consumer consumption to beverages.
Insula, Oral somatosensory, Sweetness, Temperature, Thermal taster status, fMRI, Humans, Male, Sucrose, Taste, Taste Perception, Temperature, Tongue
Eldeghaidy S, Yang Q, Abualait T, Williamson A-M, Hort J, Francis ST. (2021). Thermal taster status: Temperature modulation of cortical response to sweetness perception.. Physiol Behav. 230. (pp. 113266-).