Bring the Science of Taste into the Classroom with NOVA Resources | NOVA



Physique + MindPhysique & Mind

Use these NOVA sources to introduce college students to neuroscience, chemistry, and biology ideas that specify the science behind taste, and the way odor, sight, and sound can affect the expertise.

Grapefruit-mint-marmalade chocolate lava mini muffins with contemporary mint ricotta. Picture Credit score: Annie Wu

In early April, Annie Wu, knowledgeable musician, started experiencing COVID-19 signs. Throughout her self-imposed quarantine, Wu developed a symptom that an estimated 80% of people that contract COVD-19 report: anosmia, the lack of the sense of odor. Quickly, she additionally skilled a lack of style (ageusia). She remembers biting right into a celery stick slathered in peanut butter and tasting nothing in any respect. “It was jarring, peanut butter tasted like cheesy Elmer’s glue, espresso grew to become heat dust water,” she says.

Wu has since recovered from COVID-19, however has but to totally regain her senses of odor and style. Somewhat than dwell on this loss, the expertise has reworked the way in which she connects with and thinks about meals. Over the course of the previous seven months, she has chronicled her journey on-line together with her Instagram account “in the hunt for misplaced odor” (@insearchoflostsmell).

Because the months handed, odor maintained an elusive haze, however Wu’s style started to sharpen as she ventured out of her consolation zone. Somewhat than dwell on what she was missing, she began experimenting with taste profiles that she had beforehand averted. “There was a world of taste to discover—vinegars, sugary glazes, citrus, fermented items,” she says. “Style can carry with it reminiscences, reactions, and even pleasure for the longer term.”

Vanilla skyr-stuffed persimmon with honey and pistachios. Picture Credit score: Annie Wu

“Meals’s means to attach you to one thing so particular, and but so collective, is superb,” Wu says.

By means of this course of, Wu realized that odor is not only the firing of tingly nerves in our noses, however a connection to rapture, delight, and discovery. By sharing pictures of her visually stimulating new meals with strangers on social media, she was shocked by the connections that she was capable of develop with cooks who encourage her, lecturers at meals justice applications, meals lovers from all around the world, and even those that had misplaced their very own sense of odor and style as nicely.

All through her expertise chronicling the assorted recipes she is testing and sharing on social media, she has acquired descriptive messages about the way in which that numerous components style, with respondents usually connecting taste profiles to a sense, sure reminiscences, or a selected place that it reminds them of.

“You neglect how a lot odor ties to those emotional components of your life, like strolling into your loved ones childhood house,” Wu says.

Which raises the query, what’s the organic connection between odor, style, and reminiscence?

Inside the human nostril, there are greater than 12 million odor receptors (of about 400 differing kinds), that are activated by hundreds of thousands of potential mixtures of odor molecules. The receptors detect odor molecules and ship data again to the olfactory bulb within the mind, the place these scents are interpreted. The olfactory system is intently linked with the temporal lobe, which is answerable for emotion and reminiscence.

All 5 senses play a task in experiencing the flavour of meals. Picture Credit score: NOVA: Can I Eat That? | The Science of Taste

This space of the mind can also be house to the amygdala and hippocampus, that are crucial for emotional studying, reminiscence, and odor. This connection explains why sure smells could set off vivid reminiscences about previous occasions. The hippocampus can also be linked to our digestive system which helps regulate urge for food, digestion, and consuming conduct. Discovering meals was so crucial to our survival as a species that scientists imagine our brains developed to kind reminiscences about and round meals—together with people who make us sick.

However what’s it particularly about novelty candies, household recipes, or vacation dishes that make them so memorable after a few years? After we eat extremely interesting meals, corresponding to chocolate, the neurotransmitter dopamine is launched. This triggers the reward middle of our mind and, when transmitted by way of the hippocampus, dopamine helps flip short-term reminiscences into long-term ones.

This explains why our attraction to, or disgust with, sure meals lasts for years after tasting them. It’s due to the connections between the olfactory system and areas of the mind answerable for emotion and reminiscence that constructive or adverse taste experiences may be lengthy lasting.

With the vacations simply across the nook, cherished household recipes and delectable aspect dishes are on everybody’s thoughts. Use these NOVA sources to introduce college students to neuroscience, chemistry, and biology ideas that specify the science behind taste, and the way odor, sight, and sound can affect the expertise.

NOVA Sources on PBS LearningMedia


NOVA: Can I Eat That? | The Science of Taste

Be taught extra concerning the notion of taste, and the way dulling an individual’s means to odor could make one thing style flavorless. Use this NOVA scienceNow useful resource to point out college students which components of the physique will help you expertise taste, how appears to be like may be deceiving when tasting meals gadgets, and the way sound supplies details about meals.

NOVA: Can I Eat That? | What’s a Supertaster?

This video breaks down the science of style buds and explains how the variety of style buds you will have can have an effect on the way in which that you just interpret sure flavors. Be taught why some individuals expertise style extra intensely than others, and what evolutionary benefits “supertasters” have developed.

The Chemistry of Tender Turkey

Be taught concerning the chemistry behind brining meat. Correspondent and New York Occasions know-how columnist David Pogue explores how the method of brining can guarantee a young and moist cooked turkey. Use this NOVA scienceNOW useful resource to display how soaking a uncooked turkey in salt water provides moisture to the meat by the method of osmosis, and watch as Pogue participates in a style check to establish samples of turkey cooked with and with out brining.

NOVA Digital Sources


How Anosmia May Have an effect on Docs’ Coronavirus Screenings

Be taught extra concerning the symptom that an estimated 80% of COVID-19 sufferers report experiencing. Use this NOVA video to assist unpack the science behind how COVID-19 could cause odor loss and whether or not the situation is everlasting.

Flip to Science for Nice Thanksgiving Stuffing

What makes onions so oniony? Why does stuffing typically come out gummy? Be taught the key to creating scrumptious stuffing with the proper texture—and why chemical reactions and risky molecules in onions would possibly make you cry as you chop them.

NOVA Now Podcast: The Way forward for Meals

In honor of celebrating nature’s bounty, NOVA Now podcast host Alok Patel considers the previous, current, and way forward for meals. He digs into the world of meals science with the resident science man at America’s Take a look at Kitchen; speaks with an Indigenous neighborhood prepare dinner, educator, and neighborhood organizer about meals sovereignty and equitable meals programs; and checks in with a scientist who’s genetically engineering vegetation to photosynthesize extra effectively to extend crop yields.

NOVA Science Café Useful resource


A lot Ado About Stuffing: Answering Your Thanksgiving Cooking Questions

With COVID-19 maintaining family and friends aside, Thanksgiving celebrations will look totally different than in years previous. Lan Lam, Senior Editor at Prepare dinner’s Illustrated is right here to reply all your final minute Thanksgiving cooking questions—from the calculations to cut back recipe sizes to science-backed methods to get essentially the most taste out of your meals.



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