When we perceive the flavor of a food, we actually perceive the result of the brain's analysis of signals from the taste system in the mouth, coupled with signals from the olfactory system in the nose. Taste is not separated from smell as we eat -- we only perceive flavor through a complex process of sensor fusion. Individuals live in one of three very distinct flavor worlds, defined by their sensitivity to a compound called 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). PROP is a chemical which tastes unpleasant to those who can taste it, but has no odor. The taste of PROP has been variously described as bitter, sweet, or salty. However, to those who can taste this compound, it has a unique and uniquely unpleasant taste. Tounges can vary from "supertasters" (taste of PROP is very intense), moderate tasters (PROP is moderately intense) and non tasters (detection of PROP is minute). The question that is being tested in the present experiment is whether differences in taste input affect smell and flavor perception.
Preliminary exercises regarding simpler aspects of this proposed experiment were conducted in order to gain outside support and help anticipate the results. Two preliminary experiments testing the effects of smell on taste perception were conducted as seen in Figures 1, 2 and 3.
The purpose of the present experiment is to determine whether individual differences in taste input will impact smell and flavor perception. The null hypothesis is that there is no affect on smell and flavor perception with differences in taste input. It is predicted that differences in taste input will affect the way people perceive smell and flavor sensitivity.
One hundred subjects are randomly chosen and numbered at the Market Place Mall in Rochester, varying in age, race, and sex. Each participant's tongue is stained blue...