Your tongue can smell things, study suggests

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Your tongue could have a sense of smell. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Chemical Senses.  

This study is the first to show there may be smell receptors on the tongue.  

Up until now, it was believed taste and smell only interacted once they reached the brain. Scientists now say it may happen before. 

For the study, scientists grew human taste cells. In those taste cells they found olfactory cells – the cells responsible for our ability to smell.  

Taste detects sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savory. Smell gives you details of the food. For example, is this a lemon or a potato chip?

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According to the study, the combination of taste, smell and other senses are what we call flavor.  

Dr. Clement McDonald told News 8 sometimes the brain does have a hard time telling the difference between taste and smell.  

“It’s always kind of interesting when people come into the office. And they say, I can’t taste doc. And I say, well can you taste that sugar cube? And they can taste it fine. Ok, well can you taste that piece of salt. Yeah, I can taste that fine – but, food tastes terrible. Because without that sense of smell, food just doesn’t taste that good, said Dr. McDonald.” 

Despite food tasting bad, Dr. McDonald says most of his patients who lose their sense of smell don’t lose weight. 

“They never get that sense of satisfaction. They keep eating waiting for that bite to taste better and it never does, ” said Dr. McDonald.  

In a statement, the author of the study said it’s his hope to someday create odor modifiers that change how we taste excess fat or salt for example.  

This could help treat diet-related diseases like obesity in the future.