Bitter taste in single chorda tympani taste fibers from chimpanzee

Göran Hellekant, Yuzo Ninomiya

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27 Scopus citations


We have found earlier that chimpanzee chorda tympani taste fibers fall into groups that conform with the human taste qualities. This study focuses on bitter taste and its relation to sweet taste. Eight fibers were classified as bitter fibers according to their responses to 31 stimuli. The stimuli included the bitter compounds quinine, denatonium benzoate and caffeine. The results indicate a clear dichotomy between the bitter and sweet fibers. Sweet fibers never responded to the bitter compounds. However, in addition to their responses to the above compounds, some of the bitter fibers were stimulated by other compounds. Most prominent were responses to NaCl-amiloride mixture, KCl and xylitol. In most cases the cause could be assumed to be a bitter taste in the compound. These results suggest that the bitter and sweet tastes are conveyed in specific and separate groups of nerve fibers in the chimpanzee. Because of the closeness between chimpanzee and human, this finding has implications on the question of taste coding in human and the concept of taste qualities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1188
Number of pages4
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data was collected with financial support from the Umami Manufacturers Association of Japan, NutraSweet R&D, Mt. Prospect, IL, USA. We thank Dis. J. Moor-Jankowski, E. Muchmore and W. W. Socha for permission to study the chimpanzees at the Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Surgery in Primates (LEMSIP), New York Medical Center, Tuxedo, N.Y., USA.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bitter
  • Chimpanzee
  • Chorda tympani
  • Coding
  • Primate
  • Single fiber
  • Sweet
  • Taste


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