Pyramid Science

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Taste and Smell

A few years ago I touched upon the idea of Sniffing in Stereo. The discussion can be extended by considering taste and the whole issue of chirality. This in essence can be thought of as 'handedness' or mirror images. A reflected object is identical in every way except being the complete opposite. The right hand will not fit inside a left glove. The left foot would not fit (comfortably) inside a right shoe.

Every 24 hours, taste buds on the tongue are completely renewed, yet taste is possibly much more complex than just these taste receptors. The capacity to detect odours (olfaction) is critical for taste. Consider the case where brain injury (lesion) causes issues down one side of the body. If the left part of the brain is concerned then usually the right of the body is affected. Or the other way around.

Carvone exists as two chiral molecules: the (S)-(+)- form is the main constituent (50 - 70%) of the oil from caraway seeds and the oil from dill seeds (50%), while the R-(-) - form has its origins in several species of mint (particularly spearmint oil - mentha spicata).

Should one side of a the olfactory response be compromised then would taste also be compromised? Taste can certainly be affected, though the detection of odours may appear to be unchallenged.


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