Flavour is a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal that publishes interdisciplinary articles on flavour, its generation and perception, and its influence on behaviour and nutrition. The journal publishes articles from all relevant disciplines including neuroscience, genetics, food chemistry, sensory science, psychology and philosophy.
Check out these articles available online.
Sandra Wagner, Sylvie Issanchou, Claire Chabanet, Luc Marlier, Benoist Schaal, Sandrine Monnery-Patris Flavour 2013, 2:19 (11 June 2013)
Olfaction is a highly salient sensory modality in early human life. Neonates show keen olfactory sensitivity and hedonic responsiveness. However, little is known about hedonic olfactory responsiveness between the neonatal period and 2 years of age. In an attempt to fill this gap, this longitudinal follow-up study aimed at investigating hedonic responses to food odours in infants during the first 2 years of life. The second objective was to evaluate whether gender has an influence on hedonic responses during this early period. Four control stimuli and eight odours (four rated by adults as a priori pleasant and four a priori unpleasant) were presented in bottles to 235 infants at 8, 12 and 22 months of age. The infant’s exploratory behaviour towards odorized and control bottles was measured in terms of mouthing defined as direct contact with perioral and/or perinasal areas. For each odorized bottle, duration proportions of mouthing were calculated relative to the control bottles.
For the three ages, shorter duration of mouthing was found for unpleasantly scented bottles compared to pleasantly scented bottles. This contrast between pleasant and unpleasant odours was similar for girls and boys. Correlations of responses between ages were modest in number and level, and concerned mostly unpleasant odours.
During the first two years of life, infants discriminate the hedonic valence of odours. They avoid most of the food odours considered as unpleasant by adults, but their attraction towards food-odours judged pleasant by adults does not appear to be fully shaped at this early age. Taken as a whole, the present results highlight both the plasticity of hedonic responses to food odours, and relatively stable avoidance behaviours towards some unpleasant odours.
Richard D Newcomb, Mary B Xia, Danielle R Reed Flavour 2012, 1:9 (16 May 2012)
The combined senses of taste, smell and the common chemical sense merge to form what we call ‘flavor.’ People show marked differences in their ability to detect many flavors, and in this paper, we review the role of genetics underlying these differences in perception. Most of the genes identified to date encode receptors responsible for detecting tastes or odorants. We list these genes and describe their characteristics, beginning with the best-studied case, that of differences in phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) detection, encoded by variants of the bitter taste receptor gene TAS2R38. We then outline examples of genes involved in differences in sweet and umami taste, and discuss what is known about other taste qualities, including sour and salty, fat (termed pinguis), calcium, and the ‘burn’ of peppers. Although the repertoire of receptors involved in taste perception is relatively small, with 25 bitter and only a few sweet and umami receptors, the number of odorant receptors is much larger, with about 400 functional receptors and another 600 potential odorant receptors predicted to be non-functional. Despite this, to date, there are only a few cases of odorant receptor variants that encode differences in the perception of odors: receptors for androstenone (musky), isovaleric acid (cheesy), cis-3-hexen-1-ol (grassy), and the urinary metabolites of asparagus. A genome-wide study also implicates genes other than olfactory receptors for some individual differences in perception. Although there are only a small number of examples reported to date, there may be many more genetic variants in odor and taste genes yet to be discovered.
Richard J Stevenson Flavour 2012, 1:2 (21 March 2012)
Flavour results primarily from the combination of three discrete senses: taste, somatosensation and olfaction. In contrast to this scientific description, most people seem unaware that olfaction is involved in flavour perception. They also appear poorer at detecting the olfactory components of a flavour relative to the taste and somatosensory parts. These and other findings suggest that flavour may in part be treated as a unitary experience. In this article, I examine the mechanisms that may contribute to this unification, in particular the role of attention. Drawing on recent work, the evidence suggests that concurrent gustatory and somatosensory stimulation capture attention at the expense of the olfactory channel. Not only does this make it hard to voluntarily attend to the olfactory channel, but it also can explain why olfaction goes largely unnoticed in our day-to-day experience of flavour. It also provides a useful framework for conceptualizing how the unitary experience of flavour may arise from three anatomically discrete sensory systems.