Why can't we taste without smell? A concept that really caught my attention in Chapter 4 was the question of how taste and smell effect each other. In this section, they start out by talking about taste and what an important role it plays in our everyday lives. But they go on to talk about something even more important- smell. As humans, we only have 5 or 6 taste receptors, but if so, how do we taste such a wide variety of flavors? The secret: our taste perception is strongly biased by our sense of smell. If you've ever had a common cold, or even just plugged your nose while eating, you know exactly what I am talking about. When you have a cold, your sense of taste is nearly depleted, forcing you to constantly blow your nose just to get a taste of what you are eating. We tend to find food much less tasty when struck with a cold. This is due to our strong sense of smell, which is much more sensitive in proportion to taste.
I believe this concept is very important simply because of how many people get a common cold each year. It is also very important because we rely on our sense of smell and taste every day of our lives. Every human being has experienced this at some point in his or her life through some form of cold or congestion. It's a very interesting fact! But, this bias of smell and taste aslo has a chance to be dangerous, because without smell and taste working together, the ability to pick up on a "disgusting" or "unhealthy" taste could be disabled, resulting in some negative consequences to our body or our health.
I can apply this to myself every time I get a cold. I can never taste the food I am eating due to a completely plugged nose and congested system. But, to find out how true this really is, I got a bag of jellybeans and ate them while plugging my nose. When my nose is plugged, I cannot identify the taste of each individual colored jellybean. But, after unplugging my nose, I could immediately identify the flavor of the jellybean.
This shows the importance of smell when it comes to eating, and even breathing. If it wasn't for our sense of smell, our sensation and perception of food would be rather boring- and even dangerous at times.
What I would like to know about this furthermore is how serious the negative effects can be. Are there any serious disorders that involve a loss of taste or smell? Is it caused by anything other than a cold, such as old age or genetics?
Here is a very interesting link that dives further into the reliance of taste on smell, and the biology behind it.
By Connor Chapman