Tongue and Taste - How the Tongue Works

   The tongue is a useful organ for food processing. The sense of taste helps the brain recognize foods. Together, tongue and taste enhance the body's ability to digest and distinguish nourishing food from something that could harm the body.

   The tongue is basically a muscle. This muscle helps the digestive process by doing several things:

  • Move food to the teeth for chewing.
  • Mix saliva into the food.
  • Move food to the back of the mouth for swallowing.

   While the tongue delivers food for digestion, let's get a basic overview of how taste work. As mentioned above, the tongue mixes the food with saliva. As the saliva mixes it is also spreading the solutions and chemicals from the food into the grooves between the papillae on the tongue. The taste buds are located on the papillae and the taste receptors respond to the chemicals from the food. When triggered, the receptors send impulses along the nerves in the tongue up to the brain for processing.

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