Chemistry of Taste and Smell
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The human body does amazing things on a daily basis. All the senses that the body uses consists of nerves, neurotransmitters and the brain decodes the messages that was received. Smell is the passing of odorants through the nose, received by the olfactory cells, and are sent directly to the brain. Taste is the weakest of the five senses but it is the sensory function of the central nervous system( The Science of Taste and Smell). We taste and smell things every day but little do most people know that these two senses work together to make life even more satisfactory!
Scientists believe that smell was prominent during the caveman era. It was used to sense when to mate, for hunting, and other things that were essentials to their everyday living. When babies are first born they can recognize their mother by their smell and even mothers can recognize their child by the smell of the clothes they wear. Now we use smell for pleasurable things like perfumes, foods, and deodorizers. Smell is connected directly to the brain making it one of the strongest senses of the body. At one point scientists thought that smell only consisted of 7 different specific fragrances. In reality smells are even more complicated than they seem. Each odor is made up of different combinations of more than one type of molecule( The Senses). For example, when you smell a banana you are inhaling one of the many esters. Ester is a molecule that has a carbon double bonded to an oxygen and bonded to another oxygen that is bonded with another carbon. Here is a couple of examples of ester products in this image shown. The specific ester in the banana is called isoamyl acetate. The chemical formula is CH3COOCH2CH2CH(CH3)2. Another example of an odorant is Vanilla. Vanilla’s modern name is very similar to the scientific name which is Vanillin(Chemistry of Smell).
When the odorants ( smell molecules) enters the nose it dissolves in mucus and sinks down to the olfactory epithelium which is made of millions of tiny receptor neurons. Cilia, a protruding knob that is in the middle of the neurons,receives the odorant and sends it directly to the part of the brain called the olfactory bulb. In fact cilia is the only part of the brain that is visible outside of the skull(The Science of Taste and Smell).
The Olfactory Bulb is located next to the Hippocampus: the function of the hippocampus is to store memories. Since these two parts of the brain are closely linked smell is often associated with memories(Why Can Smells Unlock Forgotten Memories?). For example when I used to go down to the river with my family my mom would always have Coppertone sunscreen on to prevent sunburn. Now when I smell sunscreen , I think back to that time and think of my mother.
Even though the mouth is close to the brain too it is the weakest of the senses. The human tongue has approximately ten thousand taste buds each of which are consisted of fifty to a hundred and fifty taste receptors. Receptors are what absorbs the flavor, sends it to the taste nerves, and sent to the brain. There are two types of nerves that link the tongue to the brain: the glossopharyngeal nerve and the facial nerve. The glossopharyngeal nerve is makes up the back half of the tongue and the facial nerve makes up the front half of the tongue. There is another cranial nerve that is located in the back of the mouth called the vagus nerve. All of these nerves are the reason we are able to taste and enjoy our food.
When a person gets a cold or has a sinus problem of some sort they just can’t enjoy their food like they would on a day when they are healthier. Why so? This is because without smell the mouth can only taste four flavors: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Smell and taste combine to make enhancing flavor. When a person chews their food they are also taking in the smell in two different ways.
Sources for AP Chemistry Final
Taste and Smell
How do smell and taste interact?
What is taste?
Taste is a sensory function of the central nervous system, and is considered the weakest sense in the human body.
This is where you stopped 2/27/2014 11:23am
Taste is detected by taste receptors cells, clustered in the taste buds. Taste buds are composed 50 to 150 taste receptor cells bundled together. The taste receptor cells are arranged so that the tip forms small taste pores, and through the pores extend microvillus, which bear taste receptors. In the taste cells are sensory nerves called taste nerves. When taste cells are stimulated, they transmit to the taste nerve fibers which transmit to the brain. There are 10,000 taste buds in the human mouth. Receptor cells for taste in humans are found on the surface of the tongue along the soft palate in the epithelium. There are two cranial nerves that help humans taste: the facial nerve, which stimulates the front of our tongue, and the glossopharyngeal nerve, which stimulates the back of the tongue. The vagus nerve carries information from the back of the tongue. The nerves send information from the tongue to the brain, identifying which taste is in the mouth.
What is smell?
. This knob is the only part of the brain visible outside the skull. Molecules of odorants pass through the nasal passage and dissolve in mucus, and are detected by olfactory sensors. This occurs when odorants bind to odor proteins. The mucus in the epithelium contains salts, enzymes, and antibodies, which are important because they provide a direct route for infection to pass to the brain.
the chemistry of the brain smell and taste
how do smell and taste work together?
When you have a cold and cant taste?
Arkansas Travelers Database
Smell and Taste
Definition of Axon
1. that process of a neuron by which impulses travel away from the cell body; at the terminal arborization of the axon, the impulses are transmitted to other nerve cells or to effector organs. Larger axons are covered by a myelin sheath.ax´onal
Definition of Synapse
synapse /syn·apse/ (sin´aps) the site of functional apposition between neurons, where an impulse is transmitted from one to another, usually by a chemical neurotransmitter released by the axon terminal of the presynaptic neuron. The neurotransmitter diffuses across the gap to bind with receptors on the postsynaptic cell membrane and cause electrical changes in that neuron (depolarization/excitation or hyperpolarization/inhibition).
Chemistry of Smell
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Memory and smell
And the olfactory bulb, seat of smell in the brain, is conveniently placed just next to the hippocampus, the primary brain nucleus for these memories.
nerves in tasting
There are two cranial nerves that innervate the tongue and are used for taste: the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) and the glossopharyngeal nerve (cranial nerve IX). The facial nerve innervates the anterior (front) two-thirds of the tongue and the glossopharyngeal nerve innervates that posterior (back) one-third part of the tongue.
Brownlee, S. (1997). The senses. (cover story). U.S. News & World Report, 122(1), 50.
Chemistry of Smell