Update on Thermal Tasters

Update on Thermal Tasters

thermal taster

We are busy and excited as we prepare for Eurosense 2012 where together with our PhD Student Candy, we will be presenting a poster update on our Thermal Taster research.

Essentially a thermal taster (TT) is someone who detects a taste sensation when their tongue is either heated or cooled, when no taste stimulus is present! The temperature of the tongue is manipulated using a special thermode device. Previous research using concentrations above the recognized taste threshold has indicated that Thermal Tasters may perceive some stimuli as more intense than Thermal non Tasters (TnTs). However until now, no one has looked at whether there is a difference in detection thresholds between TT and TnTs….this is what Candy has been doing over the past few months.

Candy screened 200 respondents for their Thermal taster Status and classified them into four groups: Confirmed Thermal Tasters (TTs), Possible Thermal Tasters (TTs?), Possible Thermal non Tasters (TnTs?) and Confirmed Thermal non Tasters (TnTs).

Using an ASTM threshold detection method, Candy determined the detection thresholds of 110 of these respondents to six taste and flavour stimuli. Results indicate that TTs are more sensitive to sucrose and isoamyl acetate than non-tasters but once you add the TTs? and TNTs? into the mix the picture is less clear. This highlights the importance of defining the criteria for classification of TT status and we will be looking at this in more detail. It also indicates that the reported enhanced taste sensitivity of the TT may not be as pronounced at detection as at supra-threshold levels, possibly due to the differences in the mechanism of perception at the two concentration states.

This is just the start for Candy and we will go on to look at detection and supra-threshold sensitivities for more taste, aroma and flavour chemicals as well as trigeminal sensations in the coming months.

Many thanks to Nottingham University for their support of this research.