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Scientists Target the Tongue's Sweet Spots

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:14pm

Ah, now we know why Splenda (sucralose) -- and sugar, for that matter -- are so popular.

Steven Munger, a neurobiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and his colleagues conducted landmark research that sheds light on how two receptors on our tongues react with the sweet foods that we eat to send signals to our brains that produce that sensation of sweetness.

Interestingly, to date, researchers have found only two known types of sweet receptors -- which may explain why sweetness may be the most difficult sensation to create on the tongue.

On the other hand, bitter flavors have 30 different types of receptors -- which may be why we know to stay away from bitter-tasting poisons.

Sure enough, Munger -- whose landmark findings appear in the most recent issue of Current Biology -- found that both sucralose and sugar bonded with both of these taste receptor sites.

To learn more about this groundbreaking research, read the fascinating, well-researched Baltimore Sun article,"Targeting the tongue's sweet spots" Scientists move close to finding the ideal sweetener" by reporter Dennis O'Brien. 

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