Our brain receives signals that it interprets the food’s

Our mind controls everything in our body, but exactly how does it control our taste? The brain is one of the most complex organs in our body, and we continue to learn about it today. It is connected to every part of the body by nerves. Whenever food contacts the taste buds located on the tongue, the brain receives signals that it interprets the food’s texture and taste. The brain is arranged in different sections that operate different regions of the body, senses, and functions. 
The brain is protected by the cranium, or skull, and the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is the collection of blood vessels that carry nutrients to the brain and take away waste. It is special because the capillaries are impermeable to harmful substances in the blood. The barrier protects against increases in ions, some nutrients, and hormones. The substances allowed across are water, glucose, and essential amino acids. However, nicotine, fats, respiratory gases, anesthetics, and blood-borne alcohol are also able to penetrate the barrier into the brain. The blood-brain barrier is vital to the organ because the brain 20%-25% of the entire body’s blood flowing through it. 
Our brains consist of four anatomic regions- the cerebrum, cerebellum, diencephalon, and brain stem. The brain is mostly made up by the cerebrum. The cerebrum is divided into left and right hemispheres by the longitudinal fissure, and each hemisphere has the same four different lobes. The first lobe is the frontal lobe located directly behind the frontal bone, or forehead region of our face. The frontal lobe controls our motor functions, behavior, intelligence, memory, emotions, and smell. Posterior to the frontal lobe is the parietal lobe. The parietal lobes are responsible for somatic sensations and speech. Somatic sensations are the sensory impulses sent along nerve axons to the brain. The lobes posterior to the parietal are the occipital lobes. Occipital lobes mainly control vision, but also speech as well. The temporal lobes are inferior to the occipital lobes and are the most inferior lobes. They involve hearing, smell, memory, and speech. 
The cerebellum is located below the cerebrum’s occipital lobe and looks similar in appearance to the cerebrum. It has dual hemispheres, outer gray matter cortex (gray matter is nonmyelinated), and convolutions. The convolutions are created by raised areas called gyri, and the groves between gyri known as sulci. The cerebellum’s important function is coordinating body movements and balance. To do this, it receives sensory information from nerves in the eyes, inner ears, and all throughout the body. The cerebellum is always keeping track of the body segment positions and adjusts them as needed. 
The interbrain is the diencephalon, located deep within the brain between the hemispheres of the cerebrum. It is made up of the thalamus, hypothalamus, and epithalamus. The thalamus is a “relay” station for sensory and motor information between the brain and the rest of the body. It also helps to regulate the body’s states of arousal. The hypothalamus regulates metabolism, energy level, body temperature, hunger, and thirst. The sleep-cycle hormones are secreted by the pineal gland in the epithalamus. 
Three structures build the brain stem: the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata. The most superior aspect of the brain stem is the midbrain, and it is a relay station for sensory and motor impulses, like the thalamus. The pons role is to assist in regulating breathing, and are inferior to the midbrain. Below the pons, the medulla oblongata controls the reflexes for coughing, sneezing, and vomiting. It also regulates blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. 
One of the most important organs involved in taste is the tongue. The tongue has sensory receptors in its taste buds. Taste happens when food reacts chemically with the sensory receptors, and the receptors send information to the brain. Flavor is a mix of several different senses. Flavor is perceived by the brain interpreting taste stimuli, tactile and thermal information, and smell stimuli. The brain will factor in pain as part of the flavor for spicy food as well. The tongue has been thought by many scientists as having a “taste map”- such as the tip of the tongue tastes sweet things and only the tip. The problem is some people have an abnormally large amount of taste receptors, known as supertasters. Others have genetic traits that cause certain foods to be “disgusting” to them. Experiments have been done by scientists from Columbia University that reveal the brain can be manipulated to taste a certain flavor. They used a technique known as optogenetics, the use of penetrating light and genetic manipulation to turn brain cells off and on. The scientists used optogenetics on mice and evoked different tastes without food chemicals being present on the tongues of the rodents. 
The bumps on the tongue are called papillae. They pick up the food chemicals and use them to transmit signals to the brain. There are five types of papillae, and they correspond to the five different tastes of sour, sweet, bitter, salty, and umami. The different types are located evenly around the tongue instead of in one area- unlike the traditional “taste map” indicates. The brain has taste wired into it, and the chemicals in the food we eat trigger a certain flavor if the chemicals are correct for that particular flavor. 
In conclusion, the brain controls our taste by the papillae sending information from the chemicals in food to the brain as well as smell stimuli, thermal information, and tactile information being sent to the brain also. Then the brain interprets the information received, and allows us to experience the flavor that is triggered by the chemicals. Each area of the brain plays an important role in several body functions itself, but the brain must work together to experience flavor because flavor requires sensory information from different areas of the body.


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