In: Neurobiology of Sensation and Reward. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 6.


Taste stimuli are unique in the world of recognizable objects, in that they are perceived only after being selected and engulfed (Figure 6.1). The physical sources of your current visual, auditory, somatosensory, and olfactory percepts are essentially external—you see what’s in front of your face, hear what’s within earshot, feel what’s within reach, and smell bits of external objects carried to you in the airstream (it is usually possible to determine from whence it was dealt once it has been smelt)—but a stimulus activates the gustatory system only after it has been purposefully removed from view. Organisms make a deliberate decision to have a taste experience, choosing an external object in their environment for consumption and experiencing the taste percept only after sending that object down the path toward digestion.

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