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2018-03-15
How Taste Works and Why

Taste is one of the five senses. Here’s how it works.

  1. We eat food
  2. The food activates our taste buds.
  3. Our taste buds send signals of the food's chemical composition to our brain.
  4. Our brain perceives the flavors of the food.
  5. The 5 basics flavors are given meaning by the Parietal Lobe of the brain.

Taste can differ from person to person. What tastes good to one person, might taste bad to another. Here is where things get interesting. Because taste happens in the brain, it may be a slightly different taste from person to person. In other words, the flavor of the food is not necessarily inherent in the food itself. Why is it that certain foods tend to be preferred by humans? Most people would agree high-calorie foods taste delicious. Evolutionary biology would say that high-calorie foods are better for survival. It turns out that it is difficult to die of starvation when you are eating the occasional Big Mac. This is why high-calorie foods taste good. The human brain has evolved to incentivize consuming high-calorie food. The incentive is the good taste that our brain assigns it. Perhaps there are many other evolutionary incentives that encourage behavior that will lead to our survival. One human need for survival is a shelter. Perhaps the higher levels of satisfaction associated with homeownership are evolutionary incentives to encourage survival. 

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