This paper presents a parallel analysis of the results of recent studies of taste responses of humans and phylogenetically different non-human primates, in order to provide evidence of the evolutionary history of taste perception, and to discuss its present significance. A cluster analysis of the signals recorded on isolated nerve fibres of the various non-human primates shows additive trees representations, corresponding to a two-way system that allows discriminating what is beneficial from what could be toxic or anti-nutrient (sugars vs. alkaloids and tannins) among a large number of chemical stimuli. In humans, using psychophysical data (recognition taste thresholds) with a similar method of analysis, we observed the same dichotomy in the additive tree and similar covariation between some tastes thresholds, notably those of alkaloids and tannins. The converging results obtained by both methods show that the target of evolutionary pressure was a set of taste receptors that were not initially tuned to respond to what is presently described as basic tastes.
|Translated title of the contribution||The evolution of taste perception: Psychophysics and taste nerves tell the same story in human and non-human primates|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Comptes Rendus - Palevol|
|State||Published - Jun 2003|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Most research on human taste thresholds was supported by the European Union Programme CEE DG V-SOC 97 200420 05F02. Researches on isolated taste nerve fibres of non-human primates were carried out at the Madison University (Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center). Confrontation of results and further discussion on their respective significance have been carried out at the ‘Muséum national d’histoire naturelle’ (Paris and Brunoy, France), where G. Hellekant was a visiting professor.
- Basic tastes
- Gustatory nerves
- Recognition thresholds