Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mind reading: Spatial patterns of brain activity decode what people taste

13.03.2015

A team of researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam and the Charité University Hospital in Berlin have revealed how taste is encoded in patterns of neural activity in the human brain.

Kathrin Ohla, the lead researcher on the team, said: “The ability to taste is crucial for food choice and the formation of food preferences. Impairments in taste perception or hedonic experience of taste can cause deviant eating behavior, and may lead to mal- or supernutrition. Our research aims to extend the understanding of the neuronal mechanisms of taste perception and valuation. This knowledge is essential for the development of strategies to moderate deviant eating behavior.“


Study participant

Till Budde/DIfE

The study was published in Current Biology (Sébastien M. Crouzet et al., 2015, DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.057).

Tastants in the mouth activate specific receptors on the tongue corresponding to each of the basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory (umami). The signal is then transduced further to the brain. How the peripheral signal is used by the central nervous system to encode taste quality is largely unknown.

In the study, participants discriminated between sweet, salty, sour, and bitter tastants while their brain activity was recorded with electroencephalography (EEG), a method that measures minuscule electrical signals generated by billions of neurons in the human neocortex with millisecond resolution. Different tastes evoked different dynamic patterns of electrical activity.

A machine learning algorithm could be trained to discriminate between these patterns. Thus, given a piece of data, the algorithm could decode from the pattern of brain-wide activity which taste a participant had received in that moment. This form of "mind reading" even made it possible to decode which of four tastants participants thought to have tasted when they were, in fact, incorrect: tastes that participants frequently confused with each other (e.g. sour and salty) were also frequently confused by the algorithm.

Kathrin Ohla said: “We were surprised to find that the onset of this decoding coincided with the earliest taste-evoked responses, within only 175 milliseconds, suggesting that quality is among the first attributes of a taste represented in the central gustatory system.”

Niko Busch adds: “In future studies, we will go a step further and try to decipher from neural activity how pleasurable a taste was in addition to its category. This would be an important step to understanding how individual taste preferences are coded in the brain and of high relevance for clinical applications such as weight loss programs.”

Journal Reference:

Sébastien M. Crouzet, Niko A. Busch and Kathrin Ohla: Taste Quality Decoding Parallels Taste Sensations, Current Biology (2015, DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.057).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.057

A pdf of the manuscript will be made available to the media via the Eurekalert pages of Cell Press.

Contact:

Dr. Kathrin Ohla
Junior Research Group
Psychophysiology of Food Perception
German Institute of Human Nutrition
Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE)
Arthur-Scheunert-Allee 114-116
14558 Nuthetal, Germany
Tel.: +49 33200 88-2543
E-Mail: kathrin.ohla@dife.de

Dr. Gisela Olias
Senior Press Officer
German Institute of Human Nutrition
Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE)
Arthur-Scheunert-Allee 114-116
14558 Nuthetal, Germany
Tel.: +49 33200 88-2278/-2335
E-Mail: olias@dife.de
oder presse@dife.de
http://www.dife.de

The German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) is a member of the Leibniz Association. It explores the causes of nutrition-related diseases to develop new strategies for prevention, treatment and dietary recommendations. The research interests of the DIfE are obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. More at http://www.dife.de.

The Leibniz Association comprises 89 institutions conducting application-oriented basic research and providing scientific infrastructure. In total, around 17,500 people work for Leibniz institutions – including 8,800 scientists and researchers – with an annual budget of nearly EUR 1.5 billion. The Leibniz Association is characterized by the diversity of research topics and disciplines in which it is engaged. The research museums of the Leibniz Association preserve and explore the natural and cultural heritage. They are also the showcase of research as well as places of learning and fascination for science. Research in the Leibniz institutes is interdisciplinary and involves application-oriented basic research. The institutes’ work is of national significance and is funded jointly by the German federal government and the federal states (German Länder). More at http://www.leibniz-gemeinschaft.de.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.dife.de/forschung/abteilungen/kurzprofil.php?abt=PSY&lang=en Junior Research Group Psychophysiology of Food Perception (PSY)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.057 A pdf of the manuscript will be made available to the media via the Eurekalert pages of Cell Press.

Dr. Gisela Olias | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Seeing more with PET scans: New chemistry for medical imaging
27.07.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists gain new insights into nanosystems with spherical confinement

27.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

Seeing more with PET scans: New chemistry for medical imaging

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Did you know that infrared heat and UV light contribute to the success of your barbecue?

27.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>