cart Shopping Cart cart(0)

Are there really different areas of 'taste' on your tongue?

You will need:

  • 4 cups of water
  • Wooden tongue depressors, i.e. icecream sticks
  • Lemon juice; be aware of potential citrus allergies!
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • A taste test subject!

    Copyright

Instructions

 
  1. Dissolve sugar crystals into one cup, salt into another cup and pour lemon juice into a third cup.
     
  2. Leave the fourth cup as a 'control', i.e. something you can compare against.
     
  3. Mix a wooden ice-cream stick through one solution and place it on the tip of your tongue.
     
  4. Record the taste i.e salty, bitter, sweet, no taste. Wash your mouth out with pure water.
     
  5. Now repeat steps 3 and 4 for the back, sides and middle of your tongue.
     
  6. Were there areas of the tongue that didn't strongly sense the taste?
     
  7. Now repeat the steps 3, 4 and 5 for the other solutions.
     
  8. What were your results? Now read below to find out true answer...
     
  9. Maybe try blind folding a friend, can they tell which solution is which?
Tongue-image
Are there really specific areas of taste on the tongue?
 
Be Amazing Book Front Cover; Ben Newsome, teacher & founder of Fizzics Education. Be Amazing -how to teach science the way primary kids love
Be Amazing!
How to teach science, the way primary kids love

 
Read more about Be Amazing

Why Does This Happen?

 
'Tongue taste maps' have been a classic experiment for primary school aged children for many years. Many text books will incorrectly reveal that there are indeed areas of taste on your tongue, i.e. some areas taste salt better than sugar etc. The problem is that this has been based on faulty science!

There are no specific areas on your tongue exclusively for salt, sugar or sour tastes.

Your sense of taste comes from small structures called taste buds, collectively called 'papillae'. These papillae occur on top of the tongue, epiglottis and soft palate within your mouth. There are five taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. Your food's taste comes from a mixture of signals being sent to the brain from the papillae within your mouth.

The popular belief that there are specific taste areas over the tongue comes from a poorly translated german psychological study conducted in 1901! Sensitivity to all tastes is apparent throughout the tongue, with stronger sensations being produced in different areas due to differing numbers of papillae on the tongue.

Check this Wikipedia external link for further information.
 
Want more ideas for teaching science?

Subscribe to the FizzicsEd Podcast!

Listen to FizzicsEd on Apple Podcasts

FizzicsEd podcast available on Stitcher

Join our newsletter for more science teaching thoughts & ideas

Join the Fizzics newsletter

Back to human body experiments

>100 Free Science Experiments on this site!

Coloured shadows
  • Experiments to colour your class!
  • Easy & fun
read more
 
skeleton and student
  • Make fake blood & more!
  • Biology made simple
read more
 
electricity experiments
  • Circuit science for kids
  • Cheap materials found easily
read more
 
Vortex rings made with fog
  • Experiments using Newton's Laws
  • Step by step science
read more

School Science Visits: 

  • Highly engaging & curriculum-linked
  • Additional Teacher Support Resources
  • Professional visits in-class or via video conference
  • Both Primary School & High School science incursions
Call 1300 856 828 or use this form to discuss or make a show booking for your school!

Email updates

Signup to our fortnightly email Learn more
 

Contact us

1300 856 828
info@fizzicseducation.com.au

Unit 10/55 Fourth Ave
Blacktown, NSW 2148, Australia
 
facebook-icon Apple Podcast Icon  twitter-icon
linkedin-icon youtube-icon   pinterest-icon