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Substance and tongue-region specific loss in basic taste-quality identification in elderly adults.

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Physiological anorexia, decreased dietary variation, and weight loss associated with poor health are common conditions in the elderly population, with changes in chemosensory perception as important contributing causes. The present study of age-related taste loss aimed to investigate the question whether this loss is generalised and unspecific, or whether it exhibits differences in relation to certain tastants and/or differences in the topographical distribution of age-related loss. Impregnated "taste strips" with four concentrations of each of the tastants sucrose, NaCl, quinine-hydrochloride, and citric acid were applied on the tip, midlateral and posteromedial tongue regions to be identified as either sweet, salty, bitter, or sour by 30 young and 26 elderly adults. The results showed more pronounced age-related loss in identification for citric acid and quinine-hydrochloride than for sucrose and NaCl at both the tip and midlateral regions, but not at the posteromedial region where both age groups performed close to chance level. These findings may have implications for food preferences, and thus, the diets of elderly people.

Keywords: citric acid, quinine hydrochloride, related loss, related, elderly

Authored by Nordin S, Bramerson A, Bringlov E, Kobal G, Hummel T, Bende M. Department of Psychology, Umea University, Umea, Sweden.

Published in Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2007 Mar;264(3):285-9. Epub 2006 Sep 27. The full report is available online. link   A subscription to the periodical may be required.

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