#3-Taste Buds

All About Taste Buds

Glenn was wrong! I cannot believe it. He was absolutely wrong.

Here’s what I wrote in my book:

tongue map

drawings by Georgie

When Glenn returned, he explained how different taste buds on your tongue sense different flavors: sweet is detected at the tip of the tongue, sour on the sides, etc. I had a pickle in my lunch, and Georgie had a hunk of fudge, so I tested my taste buds by touching pieces of them to various parts of my tongue. As usual, Glenn was right. If you want to try this yourself, I put a taste bud diagram of the tongue on my website.

But when I started to write this webpage, I did some research. The tongue does NOT have different taste buds in different places. Here’s what I found online:

TongueScreen shot 2013-06-06The notion that the tongue is mapped into four areas—sweet, sour, salty and bitter—is wrong.  There are five basic tastes identified so far, and the entire tongue can sense all of these tastes more or less equally.

I think when we tested our taste buds at school, we sort of wanted to believe…so maybe we weren’t good testers. If you want, you can try it at home. See if you can use your own tongue to prove that the old diagram is wrong.

Tell me what you find out.

(P.S.—Glenn is not wrong very often.)

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Comments from my Readers & Friends

  1. Did you know? The reason that spicy is so – well, spicy-tasting is that the chemical capsaicin causes pain in the taste buds. That means that people who like spicy foods are actually addicted to inflicting pain on themselves! Tell THAT to someone who likes jalapenos!

  2. glen is so smart that i can’t belive he was wrong. ask glen why he thought that was right that you taste diff tastes on diff sides of your tounge

  3. With the old diagram, the middle would taste nothing. Did you know that capsaicin is the chemical that makes it spicy? Also, an indian pepper is so hot it was used in smoke grenades and was very useful!

  4. Once i pulled out one of my taste buds with tweezers, it hurt a lot and was bleeding but I’m over it now. I was like 5 when i did it so i wasn’t thinking. And anyway it was a sour taste bud and who needs those?