By Megan Evans
How smell and taste are related:
Did you know that smell and taste are linked? Conditions such as a cold or rhinitis can reduce not only your sense of smell but taste. Luckily, most smell and taste disorders are only temporary. More serious problems that can distort or reduce the perception of taste and smell include head injuries, neurological disorders, and even dental conditions.
Smell is perceived through the olfactory nerve and taste is perceived via chemoreceptors called gustatory receptor cells. Although the ability to taste and smell are separate senses, the interconnection between the two senses affect the overall perception of flavor. The reason the two senses are connected is because both are stimulated by the chemical makeup of a solution. For more information, visit: Perception of Taste
The perception of flavor:
There are five main tastes: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and savory (Umami), while, there are many smells that can change the perception of taste. Even though there are five basic tastes, the scientific community recognizes two more taste groups: astringent and pungent. Green apples and grape skin can be described as astringent, whereas, onions and garlic would be categorized as pungent.
The nose knows:
Want to understand how smell affects taste? Take the peppermint oil test. The basis of the Peppermint Oil Test is to have volunteers identify the fruit they eat that is masked with a drop of peppermint oil versus fruit that is not masked with peppermint oil. Volunteers must be blindfolded and please check for food allergies prior to conducting this experiment. Many volunteers will not be able to distinguish the various fruit because the smell will be masked.
Another experiment to try is the Jelly Bean Experiment . Segregate the same flavors of Jelly Beans into different bags. Blindfold your volunteer. Then, have them smell the jelly bean prior to eating it to guess the flavor. Afterward, give them a glass of water to refresh their palate. Repeat with a different Jelly Bean flavor. Next, have them pinch their nose shut and eat the Jelly Bean. Do they recognize the flavor? Many people cannot recognize flavor without the accompanied smell. They will only be able to taste the substance, in this case, sugar.