Yummy Water

; Credit: Oka Laboratory/Caltech

The Loh Down On Science

Does water have a flavor? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. 

Our tongue has taste buds to detect if something is sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. But how do we taste water?

A team from Caltech may have uncovered the HIDDEN taste of water. How? By measuring electrical responses from the taste nerves of mice. By individually isolating these taste nerves, they can pinpoint a specific flavor being enjoyed. 
They noticed that as the mice drank water, the sour sensors became responsive! 

Could the mice really be sensing water through their sour taste buds? 

The group used optogenetics to activate mice’s taste buds with LIGHT instead of FLAVOR. They then emptied a water bottle and made it shine a blue light when touched. The light activated the sour sensors in the mice. This tricked them into thinking they tasted something sour, even though the bottle was empty!. 

These thirsty mice kept DRINKING the blue-lit bottle—thinking it was water! 

This means that our sour taste bud is more complex than just for enjoying sour gummies.
Although those are pretty terrific.

This content is from Southern California Public Radio. View the original story at SCPR.org.