您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 科学 >> 正文

我们舌头真的有不同的“味觉区”吗?

更新时间:2017-10-29 12:49:47 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The real truth about whether our tongues have 'taste zones'
我们舌头真的有不同的“味觉区”吗?

You probably remember the diagram from school – a pink tongue with different regions marked for different tastes – bitter across the back, sweet across the front, salty at sides near the front and sour at the sides towards the back. I can remember a biology class where we made sugar and salt solutions and pipetted them onto different parts of our tongues to confirm the map was right.

你可能还记得曾经在学校课本里看到的那张图——一只粉色的舌头上标注着对应于不同味道的区域——后部是苦味区,前部是甜味区,两侧是咸味区,中央靠后为酸味区。我还记得在生物课上,我们配置酸味和咸味溶液,然后滴到自己舌头上不同部位,以确认这张图正确与否的情景。

At the time it all seemed to make sense, but it turns out it’s not quite this simple.

这张图当时看起来很正确,但是科学家最近发现,实际情况没那么简单。

The famous tongue diagram has appeared in hundreds of textbooks over the decades. It’s sometimes blamed on a dissertation from 1901 written by a German scientist called David Pauli Hänig. By dripping salty, sweet, sour and bitter samples onto different parts of people’s tongues, he discovered that the sensitivity of taste buds varies in different areas of the tongue.

过去几十年里,这张舌头味觉区域分布图曾经出现在成百上千种教科书上。这张图最早可以追溯到德国科学家大卫·保罗·哈尼格(David Pauli Hänig)于1901年发表的一篇论文。通过把咸、酸和苦味样本滴在舌头不同部位,他发现舌头不同位置的味蕾的灵敏程度存在差异。

He found the tip and the edges to be the most sensitive, but he didn’t claim that this depended on taste. Yet when he transferred this information to a graph, the impression was given that different areas corresponded to different tastes.

他发现舌尖和舌两侧敏感度最高,但他并没有提出不同味道之间的差异。但当他把它的发现画成图时,给人们的感觉好像是舌头的不同部位对应于不同味道。

Steven Munger who’s a leading taste scientist from the University of Florida believes the map came from an interpretation of the graph by a psychologist with the marvellous name Edwin Boring.

美国佛罗里达大学知名味觉科学家史蒂芬·门格尔(Steven Munger)认为,这张图的真正作者是一位名叫爱德温·博灵(Edwin Boring)的心理学家。

Boring conducted a number of studies which were far from dull. One of my favourite references is Boring and Boring (1917) where Edwin Boring and his wife woke people up at random intervals during the night to see if they could guess what time it was. They don’t tell us how they got people to agree to take part, but they do say that, although not everyone could do it, most people got the answer right to within 15 minutes.

博灵做了一系列有趣的研究。我个人最喜欢的是一项1917年的研究:爱德温·博灵和他的妻子在晚上把受试者随机叫醒,看他们是否能猜出这时是几点。他们没说明是如何说服人们参与实验的,但实验结果很明确:尽管并非所有人都如此,但大部分人都能把猜到的时间精确到15分钟以内。

Edwin Boring also wrote a book about perception and the senses which included a plan of the tongue indicating different regions for different tastes, a diagram just like the maps you sometimes still see in books today.

爱德温·博灵还写了一本有关知觉和感觉的书,里面有一幅舌头不同部位对应不同味觉的图,这就是那幅现在还能在某些书里看到的图的来源。

Today we know that different regions of the tongue can detect sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Taste buds are found elsewhere too – in the roof of the mouth and even in the throat. As well as detecting the four main tastes, each taste bud can also detect the most recently discovered taste, umami – the taste that makes savoury foods like parmesan so more-ish.

现在我们知道,舌头的不同部位能够感受到甜味、酸味、苦味和咸味。口腔其他部位,例如上颚甚至咽喉处也分布有味蕾。在感受四种基本味道的同时,每一个味蕾还能感受到最新发现的味道——咸鲜味——一种让帕尔马干酪非常可口的味道。

These tastes are not all detected in the same way. For a long time it was assumed that the receptor cells inside our taste buds could spot any taste, but this idea was overturned by Charles Zuker who runs a lab at the University of California, San Diego. Over the years he and his team identified different receptor cells for sweet, sour, bitter and umami and just one taste – salty – was preventing them from completing the set. But in 2010 they succeeded in identifying that receptor too.

人体感受上述味道的方式有所不同。长期以来,人们一直认为味蕾中的感受器细胞能够分辨任何味道,但这一认识已经为加州大学生迭戈分校实验室主任查尔斯·祖克尔(Charles Zuker)所推翻。多年来,他和他的研究小组发现了对应于甜、酸、苦和咸鲜味的四种感受器,但没有找到咸味感受器。但是2010年它们终于成功找到了最后一种感受器。

We have approximately 8,000 taste buds and each contains a mixture of receptor cells, allowing them to taste any of our five tastes.

人体大约有8,000个味蕾,每个味蕾都包含多种感受器细胞,使它们能够感受所有五种味道。

Messages about taste are sent to the brain via two cranial nerves – one at the back of the tongue and one at the front. As a further counter to the idea that different parts of the tongue detected different tastes, it was shown that even if the front nerve, the chorda tympani, is anaesthetised, people can still taste sweetness, which in the traditional tongue map is found at the tip of the tongue.

味觉信号通过两条颅神经——一条位于舌头后半部,一条位于前半部抵达大脑。有一个事实能够进一步否定舌头不同部位用于感受不同味道的说法:即便在前味觉神经——鼓索神经被麻醉的情况下,人们仍然能感受到甜味。而那幅长期流传的图显示,只有舌尖部位才分布有甜味感受器。

The next mystery has been how the brain decodes these messages delivered via the cranial nerves. In 2015 a team at Columbia University found that mice have specialist brain cells which respond to each taste.

下一个未解之谜在于:大脑是如何分析通过颅神经传来的信号的。2015年,哥伦比亚大学的一个研究小组发现,小鼠对于每种味道都有对应的大脑细胞。

So it is true that we have specialist equipment for each taste. But rather than being clusters of taste buds in particular regions of the tongue, they are specialist receptor cells with matching neurons in the brain, each attuned to a particular taste.

我们对于每种味道都有对应的感觉器官。但是并非这些感受器官聚集于舌头的特定部位,而是不同感受器细胞对应于不同的大脑神经,每种神经都被一种特定味觉信号所触发。

Different areas of the tongue can taste anything, but although some regions are slightly more sensitive to certain tastes, those differences, in Steven Munger’s words are “minute”.

舌头的不同部位能够感知所有味道,但某些区域仍然对特定味道更为敏感。这种区别,用史蒂芬·门格尔的话来讲,"可以忽略不计"。

“全文请访问纽约时报中文网,本文发表于纽约时报中文网(http://cn.nytimes.com),版权归纽约时报公司所有。任何单位及个人未经许可,不得擅自转载或翻译。订阅纽约时报中文网新闻电邮:http://nytcn.me/subscription/”

相关文章列表