Interaction of gustatory and lingual somatosensory perceptions at the cortical level in the human: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Barbara Cerf-Ducastel, Pierre Francois Van De Moortele, Patrick MacLeod, Denis Le Bihan, Annick Faurion

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151 Scopus citations


The present study has investigated interaction at the cortical level in the human between two major components of flavor perception, pure chemical gustatory and lingual somatosensory perception. Twelve subjects participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging study and tasted six stimuli, applied on the whole tonque, among which four were pure gustatory stimuli (NaCl, aspartame, quinine and HCI, pH 2.4 or 2.2) and two were both taste and lingual somatosensory stimuli, i.e. somato-gustatory stimuli (HCI, pH 1.6 or 1.5, and aluminum potassium sulfate). Functional images were acquired with an echo planar sequence on a 3 T system and were individually processed by correlation with the temporal perception profile. Both sets of stimuli showed activation in the same cortical areas, namely the insula, the rolandic operculum (base of the pre- and post-central gyri), the frontal operculum and the temporal operculum, confirming a wide overlap of taste and lingual somatosensory representations. However, the relative activation across areas and the analysis of co-activated areas across all runs for each set of stimuli allowed discrimination of taste and somatosensory modalities. Factor analysis of correspondences indicated different patterns of activation across the sub-insular and opercular regions, depending on the gustatory or somato-gustatory nature of the stimuli. For gustatory stimuli different activation patterns for the superior and inferior parts of the insula suggested a difference in function between these two insular sub-regions. Furthermore, the left inferior insula was co-activated with the left angular gyrus, a structure involved in semantic processing. In contrast, only somato-gustatory stimuli specifically produced a simultaneous and symmetrical activation of both the left and right rolandic opercula, which include a part of the sensory homunculus dedicated to the tactile representation of oral structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-383
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

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