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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.

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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 villazon
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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