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Why does smell affect taste? © Getty Images

Why does smell affect taste?

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Asked by: Jason Webb, Tennessee

Strictly speaking, taste only occurs in the mouth, and refers to one of the five basic sensations detected by the taste buds – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury or ‘umami’. Your nose, however, detects aroma, which can identify a much wider range of thousands of volatile compounds.


The sum of these two sensations is what we perceive as flavour, and so both play an important role in our overall experience of food.

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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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