Exploring brain functional connectivity in patients with taste loss: a pilot study

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2023 Oct;280(10):4491-4499. doi: 10.1007/s00405-023-08019-4. Epub 2023 May 17.


Purpose: In a previous neuroimaging study, patients with taste loss showed stronger activations in gustatory cortices compared to people with normal taste function during taste stimulations. The aim of the current study was to examine whether there are changes in central-nervous functional connectivity in patients with taste loss.

Methods: We selected 26 pairs of brain regions related to taste processing as our regions of interests (ROIs). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to measure brain responses in seven patients with taste loss and 12 healthy controls as they received taste stimulations (taste condition) and water (water condition). The data were analysed using ROI-to-ROI functional connectivity analysis (FCA).

Results: We observed weaker functional connectivity in the patient group between the left and right orbitofrontal cortex in the taste condition and between the left frontal pole and the left superior frontal gyrus in the water condition.

Conclusion: These results suggested that patients with taste loss experience changes of functional connectivity between brain regions not only relevant to taste processing but also to cognitive functions. While further studies are needed, fMRI might be helpful in diagnosing taste loss as an additional tool in exceptional cases.

Keywords: Functional connectivity; Gustation; Taste loss; fMRI.

MeSH terms

  • Ageusia*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Taste Disorders / etiology