Scientists have for the first time captured live images of the process of taste sensation on the tongue and made several new discoveries.
According to the study, "Intravital Microscopic Interrogation of Peripheral Taste Sensation" by Myunghwan Choi et al published in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers watched, via a technique known as intravital multiphoton microscopy, the live taste cells of lab mice capture and process molecules with different tastes.
In capturing the images, they found each taste bud contains taste cells for different tastes. Also, taste cells responded to molecules contacting the surface of the tongue and also to molecules in blood circulation. They were able to pick out the individual taste cells within each taste bud, as well as blood vessels up to 240 microns below the surface of the tongue.
The team now hopes to develop an experiment to monitor the brain while imaging the tongue to track the full process of taste sensation.