Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 12th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Matter of Taste
03 April 2016

Matter of Taste

Tasting the difference between bitter and sweet might guide us around a box of chocolates, but it’s also essential to how we evolved – early mammals survived by choosing energy-packed sweet foods over bitter tasting poisons. Inside this brain, from a young mouse, researchers investigated how brain cells (neurons) react to different tastes. Taste receptors on the tongue send flavour-filled signals to a region of the brain called the gustatory cortex. Its neurons (genetically-engineered here to produce colours) light up differently after bitter (red) or sweet (green) tastes. The team were able to trick the mouse into guzzling down or completely avoiding a drink of water simply by triggering these sweet or bitter brain zones. Like mice, it’s likely that certain tastes are hardwired into our brains at birth – although we can train ourselves to go against these instincts, perhaps developing a fondness for bitter chocolate over sickly-sweet soft centres.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.