Exposure to unpleasant tastes leads to disturbances of interdigestive gastric myoelectrical activity (GMA) and may affect sympathetic/parasympathetic balance (SPB). We made a careful study to determine whether taste stimulation modulates the postprandial GMA, SPB, and gastric emptying (GE) of a solid meal. Eighteen healthy volunteers (9F/9M) entered the study. On six separate days, we recorded a four-channel electrogastrogram from each volunteer during a 35-min fasting period, then for 90 min after ingestion of a solid test meal of 300 kcal. GE was measured using a 13C-octanoic acid breath test. Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis was simultaneously performed. At the start of the 21st min after the test meal, subjects received an agar cube delivering either a sweet, salty, sour, or bitter taste, which they kept in the mouth for 35 min. Control procedures involved sessions performed with a tasteless agar cube, and without any stimulation. There was no effect of the experimental intervention upon the relative power share of particular GMA rhythms. Stimulation with the salty and the bitter taste evoked a statistically significant increase in the dominant frequency, whereas the sweet and sour taste did not affect it. Taste stimulation did not interfere with the meal-induced rise in the dominant power, nor affect slow wave coupling. The kinetics of the solid GE remained unchanged by the intervention. None of the taste stimulations affected the postprandial SPB. Taste stimulation elicited after ingestion of a meal, in contrast to that during a fast, did not adversely modify the postprandial pattern of either the GMA or SPB, nor affect the GE of solids.
Keywords: electrogastrography; gastric emptying; gastric myoelectrical activity; heart rate variability; taste stimulation.