Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Bartoshuk, Linda M.
Location University of Florida
Primary Field Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Secondary Field Systems Neuroscience
 Election Citation
Bartoshuk is a leading psychologist who studies the genetic variation in taste perception, oral pain, and taste disorders. She has demonstrated that inhibitory processes underlie normal and abnormal tastes, and that individual human taste differences are based on an incomplete dominant gene. She has also shown that those who experience the most intense taste have an especially large number of fungiform papaillae on their tongue.
 Research Interests
We do not all live in the same taste worlds. Some (supertasters) live in a neon world where tastes may be so strong they are disliked. This affects diet which, in turn, affects risk factors for a variety of diseases (e.g., avoidance of bitter vegetables may lead to increased cancer risk; avoidance of high fat foods may lead to decreased cardiovascular risk). Anatomical links between taste and oral pain (taste buds are surrounded by fibers mediating pain) put supertasters at risk for some oral pain disorders (e.g., burning mouth syndrome). Bartoshuk and her students study the links between oral sensation and behavior in normal subjects as well as patients suffering from taste/oral pain disorders. Since we cannot share experiences, comparisons of sensations across subject/groups must be made indirectly, often with labeled scales. For example, we might assess pain with a 10-point scale labeled "no pain" at one end and "worst pain ever" at the other. Although widely used, such scales provide erroneous comparisons because "worst pain ever" varies across patients. Bartoshuk and her students work on methods that can provide valid comparisons.

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