News & AnalysisNeuroscience

Sweet Here, Salty There: Evidence for a Taste Map in the Mammalian Brain

Science  02 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6047, pp. 1213
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6047.1213

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A paper published this week in Science (p. 1262) presents a new picture of how taste is encoded in the mouse gustatory cortex, the region of the brain devoted to processing taste stimuli. Using sophisticated optical imaging methods to record neural activity, neuroscientists have identified discrete clusters of neurons that respond selectively to saltiness, sweetness, bitterness, or umami. The mouse cortex, they report, contains a "gustotopic map," with each taste quality occupying its own territory.