Taste and Smell

37 Supertasters

Learning Objectives

Be able to describe what it means to be a non-taster, a taster, or a supertaster.

Know what is the typical distribution of tasters and supertasters in a population.

Supertasters are people with a genetic difference that means they have an extra kind of taste cell in their taste buds, one which signals a bitter sensation in response to PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil) or PTC (Phenylthiocarbamide).

A supertaster is a person who is able to taste things to a more extreme level. This is a result from the extra number of fungiform papillae on the tongue. With this extra amount of papillae, the individual is able to taste things better and more potently. A non-taster would be a person with much less fungiform papillae on their tongue, resulting in a lesser sense of taste. A taster is what is considered to be in between a non-taster and a supertaster.

In the 1960’s Roland Fischer was the first to link the ability to taste PTC to food preference and body type. Today, PROP has replaced PTC in taste research because of a faint sulfurous odor and safety concerns with PTC. Most estimates suggest that 25% of the population are nontasters, 50% are medium tasters, and 25% are supertasters. Women are more likely to be supertasters, as are people from Asia, South America, and Africa. Female supertasters tend to have a lower body mass index and better cardiovascular health. This may be due to the fact that supertasters do not have a high predilection for sweet or high-fat foods.


Fig.4.6.1. In this figure, you can visualize the difference between a supertaster and a nontaster. The supertaster has many more papillae than the nontaster evidently. You can see why someone who is a supertaster would be more picky in their eating choices, as they have an overwhelming amount of senses reacting to what they put in their mouth. (Credit: Jarod Davis. Provided by: University of Minnesota. License: CC-BY 4.0)

At-home Supertaster Testing Using Blue Food Dye:

Step 1: Place 3 to 4 drops of blue or green food dye on your tongue. Spread the dye out and make sure you cover the entire tip of your tongue.

Step 2: Place a hole-punch reinforcement sticker on the front end of your tongue. If you do not have a reinforcement sticker, you can use a small strip of paper with a hole punch in it.

Step 3: Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to view the papillae better.After setting up in front of a mirror, make sure you can see the individual papillae on your tongue.

Step 4: Count the number of the papillae on the inside of the circle. A regular taster has about 15 to 30 papillae in that area, so if you have 30 or more, you are most likely a supertaster!


Wikipedia, Supertaster
URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supertaster
License: CC BY SA 4.0
Adapted by: Savannah Vasek,  Jordyn Obey and Lily Soderholm

Cheryl Olman PSY 3031 Detailed Outline
Provided by: University of Minnesota
Download for free at http://vision.psych.umn.edu/users/caolman/courses/PSY3031/
License of original source: CC Attribution 4.0



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Introduction to Sensation and Perception Copyright © 2022 by Students of PSY 3031 and Edited by Dr. Cheryl Olman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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