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Evolution equipped living organisms with the ability to detect and respond to chemicals in their environments for the purposes of communication, reproduction, and nutrient detection. Many airborne chemicals are detected by the sense of smell, whereas chemicals in solution that are subject to ingestion are sensed and evaluated by the gustatory (taste) system. The sense of taste acts as a final gating mechanism to the internal milieu: The taste of a substance plays a large role in determining whether or not it will be ingested. Thus, taste critically guides the selection and intake of foods, intimately influencing our health and well-being. This entry describes the structure of the taste system, emphasizing the roles of the various structures in taste processing.

Humans can categorize taste sensations ...

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