Why Are Everyone’s Taste Buds Different?

Everyone says I am the world’s pickiest eater, and I find it annoying because it isn’t my fault that I don’t like most foods, it’s my taste buds’ fault!! I always wonder why my taste buds don’t like certain foods so here is a blog on it.

Papilla is the little bumps that we all have on our tongues. People who have a ton of bumps usually find flavors to be too much and don’t like the taste of things, LIKE ME. We have sensitive tongues so we like things mild and toned down. While people who do not have a lot of bumps on their tongue like spicy things and their tongues can handle foods like that. Another factor in liking different tastes has to do with the tongues taste bud’s ability to detect molecules in the food. Everyone can recognize the 5 tastes, but the different chemicals that we all have can make the range of those tastes differ.

In high school we did this taste experiment in psych class. To find out how sensitive your tongue is, you can put blue food dye on your tongue. If your tongue doesn’t get very blue then you have way more taste buds, and your tongue is more sensitive to taste. If your tongue turns very blue then you have less taste buds and you can usually have more flavors and spicy food!


People’s tastes also are different because of the sensory capacities for the different tastes. “The sensory capacities of your taste buds are dictated by the structure of the receptors on your taste cells, and on their capacity to excite the process of transmitting the taste message,” (TasteScience). The receptors catch the molecules that touch the front of the taste cells. After, they direct a message in the cell to the nerve endings around the cells. The different structure that everyone has come from their genes.

Another factor that plays into what you taste is trigeminal sensitivity. This means the different reactions to cold and hot. Foods of course trigger the tastes, but they also trigger the trigeminal sensitivity on the temperature. For example, some people like the cooler taste of mint, and some like the warmer taste that cinnamon has.

Studies and Research:

Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in New Jersey has researchers that just discovered a protein messenger inside of our taste buds. It is called gustducin and activates when we eat sweet and bitter things. Dr. Robert F. Margolskee said that gustducin performs as an intercessor for the sweet stimuli and a chain that sends messages straight to the brain to inform it that it is a sweet taste.

Dr. Stephen D. Roper does most of his research on a freshwater lizard. He does this because the lizard’s taste buts are a million times bigger than human’s taste buds. This makes it easier to record the cells responses to different food. Dr. John Teeter and Dr. Joseph Brand use a catfish for their research because it has taste buds all over its body on the outside.





9 thoughts on “Why Are Everyone’s Taste Buds Different?

  1. Pingback: Lemon candy @ P:ear – NW NOGGIN: Neuroscience outreach group (growing in networks)

  2. yvy5242

    This is really an interesting posting, since I am always blamed by my mother to be too picky! I do believe that each person’s taste buds vary, but they do can be proved. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami are the five basic tastes. Recently, I read an article talks about “Japanese researchers suggest the ability to taste umami food could have an effect an overall health. Study states that people who had lost their taste for umami also loss for their appetite and weight.

  3. Jiamin Shan

    This is a great article and it taught me a lot of things. Now I have an excuse for not good at eating spicy food! Your blog makes me start to wonder if my taste bud plays a role in my hatred to a certain food, which I always thought is due to psychological reasons. It also makes me think if the number of taste bud can change throughout time. For example, will people get more taste buds if they eat delicate food for a while? While people kill them taste buds if they keep eating spicy things until getting used to them? I did some research and find an article that says our taste can actually get used to food we were not fond of!http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/feb/26/healthy-food-train-yourself-like-it

  4. Jack Andrew Guay

    I found your blog to be really informative and fascinating. One sense that is also different for every person is our perception of colors. While not as drastic as taste buds the way one person sees a color is slightly different then the way another person sees that same color. For example if i show you a blue piece of paper the shade of blue i see is going to be a little different then the shade of blue you see, you might see it as being a lighter or darker shade. Here is a great article that really goes in depth of explaining how and why we all see different colors. (http://www.livescience.com/21275-color-red-blue-scientists.html)

  5. Emily Lippincott

    My one question after reading this post is if these lizard tongues are anything like human tongues? We always here about tests being done on different animals, typically animals like mice, but never something like lizards. If they aren’t actually similar, would this affect their findings in stating that this is the same for humans? I thought this post to be interesting, especially since I am the type of person that can tolerate very hot drinks. My friends always wonder why I can drink a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate right after it is served to me, and now I know!

  6. zsw5031

    I’ve always knew that everyone’s taste buds were different and that everyone has distinct taste preferences. People eat what they want depending on the texture, the smell, or even the sight of the food. One of the biggest reasons why peoples taste buds are different though is because of where they live. Every culture is subject to different types of foods and cuisines. When growing up in different regions, people are exposed to different types of foods and drinks. People acquire certain tastes for foods through trials and tribulations. Basically humans attain the taste buds they have through repeatedly eating certain foods through their youth and elder ages. After reading this blog it made me think how do taste buds work? I decided to delve deeper into the matter and I found an article that explains how they work. Here it is, you should check it out! http://www.wisegeek.org/how-do-taste-buds-work.htm

  7. Shirneil Merisier

    From your post I have learned that I am a someone who can tolerate various flavors, but how these studies really conducted? What are the sample sizes of people? Is the study observational or a randomized control trial ? How do scientist know whether or not the amount of taste buds you have your mouth affects the way you taste?

  8. Jordan Charles Eisenstat

    Another factor that could influence someones taste buds is the where in the world they are located. For example, growing up in Pennsylvania, I was more exposed to the “typical” American foods, such as chicken, steak, hamburgers, etc. However, a child in Mexico may be more exposed to food that are more common in that area such as enchiladas, etc. I think taste buds have a lot to do with what foods you are exposed to as a child, and as you are exposed to more foods, your taste buds continue to develop

  9. Rachael Moyer

    I was really excited to read your post, because I am a picky eater as well, and always have to deal with the shocked look on peoples faces when I tell them I don’t like coffee. But I can’t help it, I just don’t like the taste of certain foods! The studies you used provided good information, and explain certain aspects of not liking food. But it is also important to take into consideration confounding variables, there are other senses that cause a dislike towards food. For example sight, smell, touch, and hearing. The texture of an object can gross somebody out, like the spanish desert flan. The jello consistency makes it unbearable for me to eat. There is also sight, when looking at fried octopus legs or a fish, there is no way I am eating or going to like how the food tastes. And then there is smell, if somebody is eating soup that smells like a dead animal, it’s not going to be appealing. Here’s an article on more confounding variables on taste: Article

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