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Taste Buds Lost and Found – The geeky science

March 3, 2019


In 2016 I was diagnosed with tonsil cancer and was treated with a very aggressive 30 rounds of radiation to my head and neck plus chemotherapy. It’s almost 3 years later now and the good news is that it seems to have worked and there is little reason to be concerned about it returning at this point. (I
f you want to learn more about my journey through recovery you can check out one of my earlier blogs here).

The bad news is the radiation destroyed my salivary glands which have only partly returned, and all of my taste buds which, for the most part have regenerated, although I don’t have the extreme capacity to differentiate tastes as I used to. Regaining my sense of taste was not only relieving (I am a serious foodie and cook!) but it was both funny and challenging. Sometimes the taste buds magically appeared and rewired wrong – peanut butter could taste like vanilla, and other strange mix-ups! It was with great effort and intention that I worked on improving my taste and calibrating my baby buds! It truly is remarkable how you can re-wire your brain to work that way you want/need it to if you apply the keys of neuroplastic change: Intention, Repetition and Reward.

I’m a bit of a science geek and when I ran across Dr. Farnsworth’s article ‘The Science of Taste’ I was intrigued and learned some fascinating things. Using virtual reality technology from iMotions Dr. Farnsworth reports on some very cool findings. How we perceive taste is a very complex process.

Did you know that sound impacts taste ?

A quite atmosphere makes sweets taste sweeter and a noisy one makes savoury foods taste more savoury? Or that colour also make a difference as to how we perceive a taste? The presence or increased intensity of green colors can increase sensitivity to sour tastes, while red lowers our guard for bitterness. Yellow colors can make us more sensitive to both sweetness and sourness!

I acknowledge am a nerd when it comes to this stuff, and I know some of you join me in this nerdland of cool science. I learned so much from Dr. Farnsworth I wanted to share his fascinating and easy to read article in full.