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 designate the science behind taste, and the way odor, sight, and sound can affect the expertise.

Grapefruit-mint-marmalade chocolate lava mini truffles 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 completely regain her senses of odor and style. Reasonably than dwell on this loss, the expertise has remodeled the best way she connects with and thinks about meals. Over the course of the previous seven months, she has chronicled her journey on-line along with her Instagram account “seeking 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. Reasonably 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 capability to attach you to one thing so particular, and but so collective, is superb,” Wu says.

By way of this course of, Wu realized that odor isn’t just 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 stunned by the connections that she was in a position to develop with cooks who encourage her, academics at meals justice applications, meals lovers from everywhere in the world, and even those that had misplaced their very own sense of odor and style as properly.

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

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

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

Throughout the human nostril, there are greater than 12 million odor receptors (of about 400 differing types), that are activated by thousands and 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 be residence to the amygdala and hippocampus, that are vital for emotional studying, reminiscence, and odor. This connection explains why sure smells could set off vivid reminiscences about previous occasions. The hippocampus can be linked to our digestive system which helps regulate urge for food, digestion, and consuming conduct. Discovering meals was so vital to our survival as a species that scientists imagine our brains advanced to kind reminiscences about and round meals—together with those 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, comparable to chocolate, the neurotransmitter dopamine is launched. This triggers the reward heart 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 optimistic or detrimental 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 designate the science behind taste, and the way odor, sight, and sound can affect the expertise.

NOVA Assets on PBS LearningMedia


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

Study extra concerning the notion of taste, and the way dulling an individual’s capability to odor could make one thing style flavorless. Use this NOVA scienceNow useful resource to indicate college students which elements of the physique will help you expertise taste, how seems may be deceiving when tasting meals gadgets, and the way sound gives 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 may have can have an effect on the best way that you simply interpret sure flavors. Study why some folks expertise style extra intensely than others, and what evolutionary benefits “supertasters” have developed.

The Chemistry of Tender Turkey

Study concerning the chemistry behind brining meat. Correspondent and New York Instances expertise columnist David Pogue explores how the method of brining can guarantee a young and moist cooked turkey. Use this NOVA scienceNOW useful resource to exhibit how soaking a uncooked turkey in salt water provides moisture to the meat by means of the method of osmosis, and watch as Pogue participates in a style take a look at to determine samples of turkey cooked with and with out brining.

NOVA Digital Assets


How Anosmia May Have an effect on Docs’ Coronavirus Screenings

Study 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 may 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? Study the key to creating scrumptious stuffing with the proper texture—and why chemical reactions and risky molecules in onions may 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 Check 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 crops 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 protecting family and friends aside, Thanksgiving celebrations will look completely different than in years previous. Lan Lam, Senior Editor at Cook dinner’s Illustrated is right here to reply your entire final minute Thanksgiving cooking questions—from the calculations to scale back recipe sizes to science-backed methods to get essentially the most taste out of your meals.