It is not the intention of this brief chapter to deal at length with the anatomical and physiological basis of taste and its relationship to feeding, drinking, and other behavioral patterns. These aspects of taste (and olfaction) are frequently the subject of very comprehensive published symposia and reviews, and the reader is referred to these if detailed information is required (Zotterman, 1963; Hayashi, 1967; Pfaffmann, 1967; Wolstenholme and Knight, 1970; Beidler, 1971; Schneider, 1972; Denton and Coghlan, 1975; Weiffenbach, 1977). Instead, a very brief overview of the present state of anatomical and physiological knowledge of the neural mechanisms underlying taste will be presented. This will be followed by a consideration of those aspects of taste that are usually overlooked in reviews and that may have some clinical significance and relate to information contained in other chapters in this book. Furthermore, taste experience is not unlike pain experience in that it is highly susceptible to psychological factors that influence how we feel about the sensation (see chapter 1). The pleasant or unpleasant feelings humans have about taste experiences are dependent on motivational, affective, and cognitive processes that alter reactions to the specific sensations. Thus, one can also discuss taste in terms of a motivational-affective component and a sensory-discriminative component (chapter 1). Although all sensations are modified by previous experiences, cultural background, situational context, etc., pain, taste, and probably olfaction are senses that are highly susceptible to such cognitive and emotional factors.
KeywordsTaste Cell Taste Stimulus Taste Sensibility Familial Dysautonomia Taste Threshold
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