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The Biology Behind Your Sense of Taste

Bitter and sweet might not mean what you think

Describing something as sweet, salty, or bitter is an easy way to relate a food's flavor to another person; most people have a good idea about the taste associated with those qualities, and can imagine what eating that food would be like. But scientists have found that, not unlike the stereotypical "existential" musing about people perceiving the same color differently, the same can be said for the human sense of taste. That is, taste sensitivities and proclivities can vary greatly from person to person, making the same meal effect different diner's in vastly different ways.

On a recent visit the the Monell Center — a non-profit, independent research institute in Philadelphia dedicated to studying the senses of smell and taste — the Eater team learned about the biological reasons behind the way we taste, as dictated by the unique taste profile imprinted on each person's DNA. Watch the video above for an animated look into the sense of taste, annotated by Monell Center Associate Director Danielle Reed.

To learn more about the Monell Center, click here.

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