Science project

Taste Areas of the Tongue

  1. Soak a cotton swab for each of your volunteers in the "Salty" solution.
  2. Hand over the swab, and have the volunteer touch his tongue in the four places. Ask your volunteers to rank where on the tongue the salty taste was most noticeable. Don't let the volunteers hear what the others say during their tests. Why?
  3. Collect the used cotton swabs before your volunteers set them on the table. Start filling out the following table, using hash marks.

Tongue Region

Salty Strongest

Sweet Strongest

Sour Strongest

Umami Strongest

Bitter Strongest

























  1. Have your volunteers take a drink of water and rest for a minute or so.
  2. Repeat the procedure with each of your other solutions.


The main thing you are likely to notice is how different the results between volunteers will be. Individuals will learn a lot about where they taste the difference substances the most, but what is true for one person is not true for everybody. A few people might not be able to rank the taste strength at all. 


Recent studies of the tongue’s taste receptors have shown that receptors for all types of taste are spread throughout the tongue (and cheeks and roof of mouth), so you were unlikely to find that one spot of tongue was much better at detecting one type of taste than another. Sometimes not getting a definitive result teaches us as much as getting a definite result.

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