by Shirley Corriher
Vegetable Intake in College-Aged Adults Is Explained by Oral Sensory Phenotypes and TAS2R38 Genotype.
Chemosens Percept. 2010 Dec 1;3(3-4):137-148.
Duffy VB, et al.
Taste and oral sensations vary in humans.
Some of this variation has a genetic basis, and two commonly measured phenotypes are the bitterness of propylthiouracil (PROP) and the number of fungiform papillae on the anterior tongue.
While the genetic control of fungiform papilla is unclear, PROP bitterness associates with allelic variation in the taste receptor gene, TAS2R38. The two common alleles are AVI and PAV (proline, alanine, valine, and isoleucine); AVI/AVI homozygotes taste PROP as less bitter than heterozygous or homozygous PAV carriers.
In this laboratory-based study, we determined whether taste of a bitter probe (quinine) and vegetable intake varied by taste phenotypes and TAS2R38 genotype in healthy adults (mean age=26 years).
Vegetable intake was assessed via two validated, complementary methods: food records (Food Pyramid servings standardized to energy intake) and food frequency questionnaire (general intake question and composite vegetable groups). Quinine bitterness varied with phenotypes but not TAS2R38; quinine was more bitter to those who tasted PROP as more bitter or had more papillae.
Nontasters by phenotype or genotype reported greater consumption of vegetables, regardless of type (i.e., the effect generalized to all vegetables and was not restricted to those typically thought of as being bitter).
Furthermore, nontasters with more papillae reported greater vegetable consumption than nontasters with fewer papillae, suggesting that when bitterness does not predominate, more papillae enhance vegetable liking.
These findings suggest that genetic variation in taste, measured by multiple phenotypes or TAS2R38 genotype, can explain differences in overall consumption of vegetables, and this was not restricted to vegetables that are predominantly bitter.
Polymorphisms in TRPV1 and TAS2Rs Associate with Sensations from Sampled Ethanol.
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Sep 25.
Allen AL, McGeary JE, Hayes JE.
Genetic variation in chemosensory genes can explain variability in individual’s perception of and preference for many foods and beverages.
To gain insight into variable preference and intake of alcoholic beverages, we explored individual variability in the responses to sampled ethanol (EtOH).
In humans, EtOH elicits sweet, bitter, and burning sensations.
Here, we explore the relationship between variation in EtOH sensations and polymorphisms in genes encoding bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) and a polymodal nociceptor (TRPV1).
Caucasian participants (n = 93) were genotyped for 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in TRPV1, 3 SNPs in TAS2R38, and 1 SNP in TAS2R13. Participants rated sampled EtOH on a generalized Labeled Magnitude Scale. Two stimuli were presented: a 16% EtOH whole-mouth sip-and-spit solution with a single time-point rating of overall intensity and a cotton swab saturated with 50% EtOH on the circumvallate papillae (CV) with ratings of multiple qualities over 3 minutes. Area-under-the-curve (AUC) was calculated for the time-intensity data.
The EtOH whole-mouth solution had overall intensity ratings near “very strong.” Burning/stinging had the highest mean AUC values, followed by bitterness and sweetness. Whole-mouth intensity ratings were significantly associated with burning/stinging and bitterness AUC values on the CV. Three TRPV1 SNPs (rs224547, rs4780521, rs161364) were associated with EtOH sensations on the CV, with 2 (rs224547 and rs4780521) exhibiting strong linkage disequilibrium. Additionally, the TAS2R38 SNPs rs713598, rs1726866, and rs10246939 formed a haplotype, and were associated with bitterness on the CV. Last, overall intensity for whole-mouth EtOH associated with the TAS2R13 SNP rs1015443.
These data suggest genetic variation in TRPV1 and TAS2Rs influence sensations from sampled EtOH and may potentially influence how individuals initially respond to alcoholic beverages.
Bitterness; Burn; Ethanol; TRPV1; Taste Phenotype
Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness
PNAS, January 22, 2008, 105(3): 1050-1054
Hilke Plassmann, et al.
Despite the importance and pervasiveness of marketing, almost nothing is known about the neural mechanisms through which it affects decisions made by individuals.
We propose that marketing actions, such as changes in the price of a product, can affect neural representations of experienced pleasantness.
We tested this hypothesis by scanning human subjects using functional MRI while they tasted wines that, contrary to reality, they believed to be different and sold at different prices.
Our results show that increasing the price of a wine increases subjective reports of flavor pleasantness as well as blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity in medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area that is widely thought to encode for experienced pleasantness during experiential tasks.
The paper provides evidence for the ability of marketing actions to modulate neural correlates of experienced pleasantness and for the mechanisms through which the effect operates.
Keywords: orbitofrontal cortex, modulation by marketing actions, neuroeconomics, taste
Cartoonist Looks Back On Career Built On Unnerving Visions
October 25, 2014
Cartoonist and artist Jim Woodring is one of the most important cartoonists of his generation. His paintings and charcoal drawings hang in art galleries all over the world, and his cartoons have been collected in books and graphic novels that have sold tens of thousands of copies.
He often draws in a somewhat abstract style, reminiscent of old Betty Boop or Mickey Mouse cartoons. But his drawings show an unnerving, fantastic world filled with the surreal and the grotesque. Many of them, in fact, are based on nightmarish hallucinations he’s had.
On one significant hallucination he had as a young man
That was a big one for me. I was taking an art history class. And when the screen went white, I hallucinated a huge, green, rubbery amphibious creature coming up from the bottom of the screen and it shocked me so badly that I can still feel it in the soles of my feet and my hands. … It happened at a time when I was actively sort of looking for a sign. I needed direction in my life and I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence and I didn’t know where I was going to go or what I was going to do. And this frog provided me with the answers to that by way of making me feel that I had within me everything that I needed to go forth and make myself a productive life.