How Many Taste Buds Are on the Human Tongue?

There are approximately 10,000 taste buds on the human tongue. They are located in the bumps and ridges, known as papillae, on the tongue. Each taste bud contains taste cells, which have receptors that differentiate between chemicals and send messages to the brain to respond to the taste. The lifespan of a taste bud is about 10 days, after which it is replaced with a new one. Scientists believe that humans' taste buds can taste five distinct flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, a Japanese word referring to the savory taste that occurs when the chemical glutamate breaks down.

More about taste buds:

  • The number of taste buds a person has starts to decrease after age 65.

  • Ancient Greek philosopher Democritus introduced the theory that there are four specific tastes. His idea was based on the fact that when chewing food, it crumbled into four basic shapes that each corresponded to a different flavor: sweet, salty, bitter and sour.

  • Artificial sweeteners might cause a disconnect between the taste buds and the brain. Research has found that the part of the brain that is usually triggered by sugar is not triggered when a person eats something with artificial sweetener.

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