Life savers come and taste: does smell affect our taste?

Contents

Hypothesis. 1

Research report 1

Materials. 2

Procedure. 2

Results. 4

Charts/graphs/pictures. 5

Acknowledgements. 8

Hypothesis

Smell does not affect our taste

Research report

In this research, the main aim is to determine whether smell affects our sense of taste or not. In one research study relating to the relationships between smell and taste, it was discovered that perception is the main determinant of this relationship. It is amazing that foods and drinks are normally identified by smell and sight. For instance, taste is rarely used to identify red wine or candy.

We can identify food through sight. In order to identify a strawberry, you need not taste or smell; you only need to see it. Our brains identify taste as a fusion of smell, touch, and ‘taste’, all wrapped up into one sensation. Perhaps the most appropriate term to use to describe taste and smell is flavor. When we are sipping or chewing, all sensory information comes from one source and hence the combination of sensory qualities.

Some taste sensations are pure. Examples of pure sensations are sweet, savory, bitter, salty, sour, and fat.

When, you place food or drink in your mouth, the taste buds that are on the tongue are activated and therefore taste is perceived. Sometimes smell seems to be emanating from the mouth although the cells that detect smell are located in the nasal cavity. This takes place through olfactory referral, where sensory information in the form of smell from the nasal cavity is used for perception of flavor. For this reason, it seems as if smell affects our perception of taste.

Materials

  1. Blind fold
    1. Life savers candy
    1. Nose plug
    1. Water
    1. Plate
    1. Small cups

Procedure

In this research study, no assembly work is needed.

  1. Gather all the materials that are required for this research study. The experiment should be carried out using ten participants, only one person at a given time. No participant should be told about what is going to happen during the experiment or the items being tasted. Rather, they should be asked to identify the items while they are blindfolded.
    1. Choose one item and designate it for both smelling purposes and tasting purposes. For purposes of this experiment, lifesavers will be used for both smelling and tasting. Record all the items that you have decided to use.
      1. Put ten different portions of lifesaver candy in ten different small cups.
      1. Put another portion of lifesaver in a plate.
      1. Tell each student to close his eyes and then blindfold him. Warn him against peeking.
      1. Put the life saver candy in the plate under his nose and instruct him to smell its fragrance. The participant should not touch the item. The identity of the item should not be revealed either.
      1. Repeat the same process, this time asking him to stick out his tongue. Put the sucker on the tongue and let him taste it. He should then identify the taste. Do not tell them which flavor it is. Ensure that the candy lasts long on the tongue for the taste sensation to be perceived. Do not let the participant chew the candy.
      1. Ensure that each participant washes his mouth with clean water after this phase of the research. This is to ensure that no sensory information remains in the taste buds of the tongue to influence subsequent experiments.
      1. The student should try to identify the flavor of the lifesaver.
      1. Record the answer that each student he has given.
      1. Repeat this procedure with all the participants. Make sure that you have a fresh lifesaver candy for use with every participant.
      1. Record the answer given by the participant
      1. The observations made ought to follow after one minute has lapsed between the beginning and the end this experiment.
      1. Describe every taste in the words of the student who was blindfolded.
      1. Then, describe the taste in its conventional standards.
      1. Do the same thing with all the other participants, only that you should interchange between the taste and smell procedures, that is, with the next participant, begin with having him taste before smelling the suckers. Be sure you have enough suckers to use a fresh one for each participant.
      1. Repeat the same experiment only that this time, the participants, one at a time, will taste the lifesaver with nose plugs on and blindfolds on. They will identify the substance.

Results

Five participants correctly identified the lifesaver using taste while they were blindfolded but with no nose plugs on. Nine of the ten participants correctly identified the lifesaver candy using smell alone.

Only one of the 10 participants correctly identified the taste of the lifesavers candy with the nose plugs in place. Participants seemed to take longer to perceive the sense of taste when their noses were covered with nose plugs.

It was noted that all participants lost confidence when answering questions with nose plugs put in place. This is because they are not used to detecting sensory information while some senses are not functioning.

The sense of taste was noted to be affected by the sense of smell. Some respondents seem to infer from the smell they had been exposed to before.

Charts/graphs/pictures

Fig. 1: A pie chart showing a comparison between those who correctly identified the lifesaver candy taste and those who identified it wrongly while blindfolded.

                                                                                                        10% smelled wrongly    

                                                                                                      while blindfolded                         

Fig. 2: A pie chart showing a comparison between those who correctly identified the lifesaver candy smell and those who identified it wrongly while blindfolded.

Conclusions

There seems to be a very strong connection between the sense of taste and that of smell. However, it seems difficult to many respondents to tell which sense affects the other. The senses of taste and smell seem to be interacting in order to help in identification of food. It seems that the role of smell is as important as that of taste when it comes to recognition of different food types.

Sight is also important in the recognition of foods and drinks through smell and taste. This is where perception comes in sharp focus. knowledge of how certain foods look like is enough for us to form a hypothesis about their taste and smell. Smell and taste senses only test the hypothesis that in most cases turns out to be on the affirmative side.

Another thing that seems very clear is that the sense smell is less dependent on sight when it comes to recognition of different foods and drinks. In other words, it is easier to identify something rightly through smell when you are blindfolded than through taste.

            Perception plays a very important role in cementing conventional relationships between smell and taste. This is what makes it possible for us to identify different types of foods and drinks quickly.

            Human beings always pay little attention to the sense of touch when it comes to interactions between taste and smell. This interaction in reinforced as much through sight as through touch.

            The fact that participants were not confident about identifying substances with some of their senses functioning showed that both taste and smell contribute to identification of foods and drinks.

            From this research, two possible implications can be derived. This first implication is that taste affects our smell rather than the other way round.  All participants started by tasting and then smelling. Fifty percent identified the candy correctly while the other 50% did not.  When smelling the same substance while blindfolded, 90% of all the participants got it right. Maybe their decision was reinforced by their earlier encounter with the taste; that the perception became clearer when the impulse of smell was introduced.

            This research sets precedence for further investigations on whether smell affects taste. In future research, it would be good to do a similar experiment only that this time round, participants would start by smelling then tasting.

This research challenges the commonly held view that the sense of taste is more important in identifying foods compared to that of smell.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thanks my teacher Mrs. Tobar for assistance on how to carry out the research. Her insights into how to come up with a good hypothesis were very helpful. I also appreciate the efforts she made in ensuring that I got all the ingredients I needed for the experiment. She also enlightened me on how to coordinate all the participants in order to ensure that the experiment was successful.

            Many thanks to all the ten participants who agreed to participate in the whole research. They spared their valuable time and participated wholeheartedly in the research. They adhered to the instructions as instructed. It is because of them that this research turned out to be a success.

            Thanks to the school’s administration for providing me with all the materials that were used in this experiment. The school also provided a conducive environment through which the research would be carried.

Mrs. Roberts allowed ten students who belong to her class to spend some time out of class in order to participate in these experiments. In this regard, thank you for your understanding and help.

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