Do you ever wonder why doctors examine your tongue whenever you get sick? The human tongue plays a vital role in maintaining a person’s health. This interesting fact will unveil the mystery.
Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia tested some human taste cells to see how the human tongue reacts to odour. A biologist named Mehmet Hakan Ozdener led the experiment. They cultured human taste cells containing the necessary molecules found in olfactory cells. These molecules give the cells the capacity to detect the smell.
The idea for this research came from Mehmet’s 12-year-old son. The curious boy bothered his father with an intriguing question about the behavior of snakes. These reptiles are known to use their tongues to detect the smell of things around them. Flicking their tongues allow snakes to smell through their mouths.
Before the experiment took place in Monell, science considered taste and smell as two separate sensory systems. Ozdener’s research helped scientist understand the relationship between a human being’s sense of taste and smell. Ozdener maintains that the human tongue does not replace the nose as the primary sense of smell but the study can lead to the development of certain technologies and treatments that can help fight the excessive intake of salt, sugar and fat preventing the rise of diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
The scientists at Monell used a method called “calcium imaging” to study the reaction of the cultured taste cells to smell. Their discovery astonished them. The taste cells responded to the odor just as the olfactory cells would. They posited that olfactory receptors may play a role in how the human tongue detects taste. The study has been published in an online journal.