Taste performance on the anterior human tongue varles with fungiform taste bud density

John R Zuniga, Steve H. Davis, Robert A. Englehardt, Inglis J. Miller, Susan S. Schiffrman, Ceib Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


This study demonstrated that individual diversities of taste sensitivity on the anterior tongue are due, in part, to variations in fungiform taste bud density. Citric acid solutions were delivered to a closed, spatially-matched (each test site was 43 mm2) flow chamber attached to the surface of the anterior tongue in 84 subjects. A two-alternative forced choice, modified staircase procedure was used to derive a detection threshold value for citric acid. The same session also included a visual analog rating procedure to scale the taste intensity judgement of five concentrations of citric acid. The taste buds within the chamber were distinguished by methylene blue stain and recorded by videomicroscopy. The sip-and-spit method was used to contrast the spatially-matched condition with whole mouth stimulation. We found that detection threshold values were inversely related to the number of fungiform taste buds, independent of gender or age. Whole-mouth threshold values determined for each subject were always well below the spatially-matched threshold values. In addition, the data demonstrated that subjects were able to scale the dynamic range of citric acid solutions. However, y-intercept approached zero intensity as the number of fungiform papillae decreased. The observed differences in citric acid sensitivity and fungiform taste bud density indicated that taste performance on the anterior tongue in humans varies, in part, with the number of taste buds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-460
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Taste performance on the anterior human tongue varles with fungiform taste bud density'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this