The neurophysiology of taste and olfaction in primates, and umami flavor

Edmund T. Rolls, Hugo D. Critchley, Andrew Browning, I. Hernádi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

To investigate the neural encoding of glutamate (umami) taste in the primate, recordings were made from taste responsive neurons in the cortical taste areas in macaques. Most of the neurons were in the orbitofrontal cortex (secondary) taste area. First, it was shown that there is a representation of the taste of glutamate which is separate from the representation of the other prototypical tastants sweet (glucose), salt (NaCl), bitter (quinine) and sour (HCl). Second, it was shown that single neurons that had their best responses to sodium glutamate also had good responses to glutamic acid. Third, it was shown that the responses of these neurons to the nucleotide umami tastant inosine 5'-monophosphate were more correlated with their responses to monosodium glutamate than to any prototypical tastant. Fourth, concentration response curves showed that concentrations of monosodium glutamate as low as 0.001 M were just above threshold for some of these neurons. Fifth, some neurons in the orbitofrontal region, which responded to monosodium glutamate and other food tastes, decreased their responses after feeding with monosodium glutamate to behavioral satiety, revealing a mechanism of satiety. In some cases this reduction was sensory-specific. Sixth, it was shown in psychophysical experiments in humans that the flavor of umami is strongest with a combination of corresponding taste and olfactory stimuli (e.g., monosodium glutamate and garlic odor). The hypothesis is proposed that part of the way in which glutamate works as a flavor enhancer is by acting in combination with corresponding food odors. The appropriate associations between the odor and the glutamate taste may be learned at least in part by olfactory to taste association learning in the primate orbitofrontal cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-437
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume855
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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Neurophysiology
Sodium Glutamate
Smell
Flavors
Primates
Neurons
Glutamic Acid
Odors
Prefrontal Cortex
Inosine
Quinine
Association Learning
Food
Inosine Monophosphate
Garlic
Nucleotides
Salts
Association reactions
Macaca
Glucose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

The neurophysiology of taste and olfaction in primates, and umami flavor. / Rolls, Edmund T.; Critchley, Hugo D.; Browning, Andrew; Hernádi, I.

In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 855, 1998, p. 426-437.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rolls, Edmund T. ; Critchley, Hugo D. ; Browning, Andrew ; Hernádi, I. / The neurophysiology of taste and olfaction in primates, and umami flavor. In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1998 ; Vol. 855. pp. 426-437.
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