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Influence of Stimulus Temperature on Orosensory Perception and Variation with Taste Phenotype

Abstract

Recently, the phenomenon of thermal taste, where thermal tasters (TTs) perceive taste sensations from the application of thermal stimuli to the tongue, was described. Thermal taster status (TTS) appears to function as a marker of individual variation in orosensory perception, as TTs are more responsive to prototypical orosensory stimuli and flavor attributes in complex beverages than thermal non-tasters. The main objective of this study was to examine the influence of TTS on the relationship between stimulus temperature and orosensory perception. Propylthiouracil (PROP) responsiveness has long been used as an index of individual variation in oral sensation, as general orosensory responsiveness to a variety of stimuli associates with the ability and degree to which individuals perceive PROP's bitterness. PROP taster status (PTS), an expression of individuals' PROP responsiveness, was also examined. Perceptually equi-intense stimuli eliciting sweet, sour, bitter, and astringent sensations were presented at 5 °C and 35 °C and evaluated using time-intensity methodology. Unexpectedly, an apparent trend of TTs reporting higher maximum perceived intensities for all stimuli was not statistically significant, and an examination of individual subjects' data suggests further examination of the influence of TTS on orosensory stimuli is warranted. PROP bitterness and the perceived intensity of orosensory stimuli were not associated at either temperature; however, some differences between PTS groups were found. As previously reported, TTS and PTS interactions were not observed. Interestingly, temperature influenced the maximum intensity perceived from astringent, bitter, and sour stimuli, but not from the sweet stimulus.

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Abbreviations

Alum:

Aluminum sulfate

ANOVA:

Analysis of variance

AUC:

Total area under the time-intensity curve

DAng:

Angle (°) of sensation from IMax to the last recorded value

DArea:

Decrease Area—area under the descending portion of the curve from Imax to the last recorded value

DUR:

Total duration (s) that the sensation is rated

FP:

Fungiform papillae

gLMS:

Generalized labeled magnitude scale

gVAS:

Generalized visual analogue scale

IAng:

Angle (°) of sensation increase from start to Imax

IArea:

Increase Area—area under the ascending portion of the curve from start to Imax

IDelay:

Initial Delay—time (s) to first response

IInt:

Initial Intensity—first intensity response

IMax:

Maximum intensity

LMS:

Labeled magnitude scale

MSG:

Monosodium glutamate

pMT:

PROP medium-taster

pNT:

PROP non-taster

PROP:

6-n-propylthiouracil

pST:

PROP super-taster

PTC:

Phenylthiocarbamide

PTS:

PROP taster status

SEM:

Standard error

TI:

Time intensity

TMax:

Time (s) to maximum intensity

TnT(s):

Thermal non-taster(s)

TPRM5:

Transient receptor potential melastatin 5 channel

TT(s):

Thermal taster(s)

TTS:

Thermal taster status

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Acknowledgements

This work was completed as part of MRB's PhD requirements at Brock University. The authors thank Lynda van Zuiden (Brock University) for assistance. The Brock University Electronics and Machine Shops are thanked for building the thermode. Dr. Barry Green (Yale University) is sincerely thanked for his assistance with the production of the thermode, and Dr. Linda Bartoshuk (University of Florida) is thanked for her guidance on scale choice and use. Anonymous reviewers are thanked for their thoughtful comments and insightful suggestions. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Pangborn Sensory Science Scholarship, and the American Wine Society Educational Foundation are gratefully acknowledged for scholarship funding. GalaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Division, which underwrites the Pangborn Scholarship, has no other interest in this work. An NSERC Discovery Grant (#238881) to GJP supported this research.

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Correspondence to Gary J. Pickering.

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Bajec, M.R., Pickering, G.J. & DeCourville, N. Influence of Stimulus Temperature on Orosensory Perception and Variation with Taste Phenotype. Chem. Percept. 5, 243–265 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12078-012-9129-5

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Keywords

  • Taste
  • Astringency
  • Propylthiouracil taster status
  • Thermal taster status
  • Temperature
  • Time-intensity