The Relationships Between Common Measurements of Taste Function

Jordannah Webb, Dieuwerke P. Bolhuis, Sara Cicerale, John E. Hayes, Russell Keast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There are five common, independent measures used to characterize taste function in humans: detection and recognition thresholds (DT and RT), suprathreshold intensity ratings of prototypical tastants, propylthiouracil (PROP) bitterness intensity, and fungiform papillae (FP) number. Methods: We employed all five methods to assess taste function of 65 women (21.5 ± 4 years, BMI 22.3 ± 2.8 kg/m2). Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated between the different measures. Results: The DT and RT were positively correlated for sweet, bitter, sour, and umami (p < 0.05), but not for salt. The DT or RT did not correlate with suprathreshold intensity ratings, except for umami (suprathreshold intensity and RT: r = −0.32, p = 0.009). FP number did not correlate with any measurement of taste function. PROP bitterness intensity ratings did not correlate with any measurement of taste function, except for suprathreshold ratings for saltiness (r = 0.26, p = 0.033). Conclusion: As most of the individual measures of taste function did not correlate with each other, with exception of the two threshold measures, we conclude that there are multiple perceptual phases of taste, with no single measure able to represent the sense of taste globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
JournalChemosensory Perception
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Fungiform papillae
  • PROP
  • Suprathreshold
  • Taste function
  • Threshold

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