No, your tongue is not separated into “sweet”, “salty”, “sour” and “bitter” zones.


Each of us has a parent or a teacher who proudly told us: we perceive sweetness on the tip of the tongue, saltiness on the sides, sourness, a little further back and bitterness, near the throat… However, this statement. , which can still be read here and there, in France, on the website of an academy or on a teacher’s blog, is false. It is the result of an inaccuracy published in a book in 1942, interpreted lightly. Since then, the famous “linguistic map” has been widely denied, again this year in a scientific journal, but probably not enough to avoid word of mouth. Example of linguistic map. The story begins in 1901 when a German scientist named David P. Hänig publishes the results of an experiment conducted with a handful of colleagues. In these volunteers, it stimulated the taste buds located on the edges of the tongue. From his feelings, he concludes that the sensitivity to four tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter) varies according to the areas, without being, however, mutually exclusive. Looking at their diagrams, we understand that they can be perceived almost everywhere and that the differences are quite subtle. The perception of sweet, salty, sour and bitter according to David P. Hänig. Three decades later, a historian of psychology at Harvard, Edwin Boring, collects Hänig’s raw data in a book. It translates them into a line graph. But it does not include any orderly scale to quantify the sensitivity of the different tips of the tongue to different tastes. So much so that we could interpret the diagram in a wrong way: without indicating the lowest level reached by the sweetness curve, for example, we will quickly conclude that certain regions of the tongue are insensitive to sweets. Image taken from the book Sensation and perception in the history of experimental psychology Deceptive tannins This is how Hänig’s work will be overused for decades and a legend, perpetuated to this day. The linguistic map born of the Boring letter appears in popular magazines, such as Scientific American in the 1950s, as well as in scientific literature and textbooks. Researchers will challenge this pseudo-discovery, but quietly. In 1974, the American psychologist Virginia B. Collings gave it a serious blow. She observes, like Hänig, variations between the different regions of the language, judging them to be insignificant. The book published by Boring, 36 years earlier, shows that flavors can be felt anywhere on the tongue, but also on the palate or glottis. “The apparent simplicity of the language map has made it a popular laboratory demonstration in children’s biology classes,” the psychologist wrote in 1993. “The popularity of this laboratory demonstration is all the more surprising because it does not must produce the expected results regularly enough.. Because that’s the originality of this legend: whoever does the experiment himself with a sherbet or a piece of chips will certainly find it disappointing! We would have guessed it: the bitter is the most tenacious While disproving the tongue map, two researchers, Emma Louise Feeney and John E. Hayes, wrote in 2014 that they observed that the perception of this taste was “significantly greater” in the back of the organ, so close to the throat. When asked, Charles Spence, Oxford researcher and author of a study published in 2022 around the myth, has an explanation: “The location of taste in the oral cavity is often determined by tactile signals, such as ra the astringency of tannins in woody red color. wine and tea”, these tannins being “bitter”, the received idea seems, however, to have died. In a memoir published four years ago, Manuel Zenger, now a neurobiologist and professor in Vaud, Switzerland, argued that books for the general public no longer dare to present the map of language. However, after surveying 144 high school students and future teachers in the industry about their knowledge of this theory, he came up with a result that leaves you wondering: 59.3% of respondents, with an average of age 23, they had answered having heard about it. before. Of which more than 60% in the school banks…
#tongue #separated #sweet #salty #sour #bitter #zones


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