An overview of binary taste-taste interactions

Russell S.J. Keast, Paul A.S. Breslin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

344 Scopus citations


The human gustatory system is capable of identifying five major taste qualities: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory (umami), and perhaps several sub-qualities. This is a relatively small number of qualities given the vast number and structural diversity of chemical compounds that elicit taste. When we consume a food, our taste receptor cells are activated by numerous stimuli via several transduction pathways. An important food-related taste question which remains largely unanswered is: How do taste perceptions change when multiple taste stimuli are presented together in a food or beverage rather than when presented alone? The interactions among taste compounds is a large research area that has interested electrophysiologists, psychophysicists, biochemists, and food scientists alike. On a practical level, taste interactions are important in the development and modification of foods, beverages or oral care products. Is there enhancement or suppression of intensity when adding stimuli of the same or different qualities together? Relevant psychophysical literature on taste-taste interactions along with selected psychophysical theory is reviewed. We suggest that the position of the individual taste stimuli on the concentration-intensity psychophysical curve (expansive, linear, or compressive phase of the curve) predicts important interactions when reporting enhancement or suppression of taste mixtures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-124
Number of pages14
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Bitter
  • Enhancement
  • Food
  • Salty
  • Savory
  • Sour
  • Suppression
  • Sweet
  • Taste mixtures
  • Taste psychophysics
  • Umami


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