Narrowly viewed, taste is limited to sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami (meaty, savory) sensations. Colloquially, taste refers to sensations from foods and beverages, where taste combines with other sensory inputs to produce complex sensations. Recent progress in psychophysics - the study of relationships between physical stimuli and the perceptions they induce - permits the characterization of normal variation and variation associated with aging or damage. Appropriate methods are needed to fully understand genetic, molecular, and neurochemical processes involved in taste sensation. Via psychophysics, we can measure how taste variation influences food preference and intake and ultimately our health and quality of life.
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