Thursday, April 19, 2007


Noah loves to experiment. Typically his experiments involve letting the water run in the bathroom sink until mom or dad yells, "Hey what are you doing?" Today after school Noah and I were reading a Magic School Bus book about the senses. When we got to the section on taste Noah told me about how the tounge has different areas tha can taste different things. I remember seeing this diagram when I was in middle school. It didn't seem right to me so I decided to test it. I took a small pile of sugar and a small pile of salt. I would then lick my finger and put the salt on the different areas of my toungue. I could taste salt everywhere. Then I tried the sugar. Same result. I could tell it was sugar no matter where I put it.
This little experiment confused me. I felt like I had to have been doing something wrong since I wasn't getting the result my textbook said I should. It was over a decade later that I found out that the map of the toungue was a complete myth.
Today while reading the book with Noah also mentioned that he had seen the map of the toungue. I didn't want Noah to have to wait until he was in his 30s to find out that this was just bunk so we went and did the same little experiment. Noah was pleasantly suprised to see that he could tell the difference between salt and sugar on any part of his toungue.
It amazes me that so many people continue to claim this myth is fact without ever doing this simple test. I sure hope Noah keeps his inquisitive nature and keeps wanting to experiment and test what he's told.

1 comment:

  1. I always questioned the map too, though never enough to test it. For one thing, when I tasted something sour the sensation was usually strongest at the back of my tongue where bitter is on the map. I also the idea that there are only four tastes never sat well with me. In my mind there were tastes that simply couldn't be constructed from those four simple flavors. And unlike color experiments, that can show how mixing the primary colors of light create other colors, I never saw an experiment where different flavors were mixed in various combinations to create other identifiable flavors.

    It wasn't until I took a sensation and perception course in college, and learned about the debate over umami, that I realized I wasn't the only one to question the four primary flavors.