A few days ago I shared an article about restaurants y social media and I received a very interesting comment where I suggest incorporating the topic of Neurogastronomy. I had certainly heard the term but had not been very sympathetic to it. But if it caught my attention a lot and I decided to look for information to instruct me. In that search process I found this interesting article that I share with you.

Neurogastronomy, or How Our Brain Perceives the Taste of Food

Original article in: qmayor.com

La International Society for Neurogastronomy shows that taste perception is shaped by many of the five senses. The participants were blindfolded and covered their noses while tasting purees of pear, banana, pumpkin, peas ... They were asked to identify the foods they tried. Most could not identify each puree until they unclogged their noses again.

Deceiving the brain

Neuroscientists, physiologists, and chefs hope for breakthroughs in taste and smell perception research that could allow for neurological manipulation of taste perception.

The concept, known as neurogastronomy, was the focus of an inaugural international conference on November 07 organized by the International Society for Neurogastronomy, in Lexington, Ky., With demonstrations and presentations by researchers, scientists, and cooks. Much of the discussion focused on manipulating flavor experiences using all the senses.

Some researchers in the field are raising a futuristic question: What if science could change the tastes of food by manipulating neurological signals within a subject's body, rather than changing external characteristics such as style of kitchen, the environment or the food itself?

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"We could potentially revolutionize the flavor of foods”Says Tim McClintock, a professor of physiology at the University of Kentucky and one of the researchers who spoke at the conference. "Some people might find it creepy," he acknowledges, as it could be irritating to have a familiar food that tastes completely different than expected, even if the change is an improvement.

Gina Mullin, a patient-judge in the Applied Neurogastronomy Competition between two teams made up of cooks, neuroscientists and doctors. Ms Mullin has breast cancer and has metastasized, receiving chemotherapy every three weeks for the rest of her life. One of the goals of neurogastronomy, says Dan Han, co-founder of the International Society for Neurogastronomy, is to help patients "be able to break bread with the family and enjoy life again." PHOTO: JAMES MORRIS

Clinical benefits

There could be clinical implications for such neurogastronomical techniques. Neurogastron scientists may help make nutritious foods more attractive to people whose taste and smell receptors are greatly altered by chemotherapy. For patients struggling with compulsive eating or obesity, the techniques could make nutritious food at least as attractive as the food they crave.

Adults who have lost their sense of smell are another population that could benefit. Some of these people experience unpleasant "ghost" odors and a common phantom odor is corpse, and these odors affect taste and flavor.

The relationship between taste and smell

The close relationship between the senses of taste and smell is widely known, but exactly how the taste and smell systems work together has not yet been disengaged. The presence of odor receptors in the brain was not discovered until 1991. The discovery, made by scientists Richard Axel and Linda Buck while they were at Columbia University, won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Gordon M., a physiologist and professor in the department of neurology at Yale University School of Medicine, is responsible for coining the term "neurogastronomy." He began studying the sense of smell and how smell is processed by the neurological circuits of the brain decades ago.

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The olfactory system allows us to detect environmental odors, as well as "retronasal" odors, which originate inside the body, while we eat and are essential for the perception of flavor. Retronasal stimulation occurs when we chew, releasing reactive molecules from food that stimulate sensory cells, which in turn stimulate cells in the brain's olfactory bulb and are processed by the olfactory cortex.

In another tasting demonstration, “Interaction of Taste and Smell”, participants demonstrated how combinations of odors can affect taste perception. They took a bite of a single apple, and then a second bite, while smelling a bottle of vanilla perfume. PHOTO: JAMES MORRIS

A better understanding of how the senses integrate to create appetite will help chefs become more and better creatives by creating "memories of the palate." Flavor manipulation could improve quality of life of cancer patients, among many others.

The possibility of manipulating human perception of taste presents technical challenges.

Humans have 350 olfactory receptors in their brains, far fewer than dogs, which have 1.200 and elephants number 2000. What a person perceives as a single odor sensation is a mixture of odor chemicals.

For the most part, Scientists They study odor molecules and individual receptors, such as the vanillin molecule, which produces a vanilla odor, although what we perceive as a single odor is almost always a pattern of many trigger receptors. We don't really understand patterns at all ..

When the sense of taste is lost, it can be life threatening. If the brain pathways could be corrected to fire the correct pattern, even despite the damage to the receptors, the affected people might be able to perceive the salt, sweetness, umami and bitterness again.

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I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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