Taste buds are found on the tongue in 3 types of structures: the fungiform papillae, the foliate papillae, and the circumvallate papillae. Of these, the fungiform papillae (FP) are present in the greatest numbers on the tongue, and are thought to be correlated to the overall number of taste buds. For this reason, FP density on the tongue is often used to infer taste function, although this has been controversial. Historically, videomicroscopy techniques were used to assess FP. More recently, advances in digital still photography and in software have allowed the development of rapid methods for obtaining high quality images in situ. However, these can be subject to inter-researcher variation in FP identification, and are somewhat limited in the parameters that can be measured. Here, we describe the development of a novel, automated method to count the FP, using the TongueSim suite of software. Advantages include the reduction in time required for image analysis, elimination of researcher bias, and the added potential to measure characteristics such as the degree of roundness of each papilla. We envisage that such software has a wide variety of novel research applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems
- Physiology (medical)
- Behavioral Neuroscience