If our tongue can sense basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, etc.), how does it sense more complex tastes, like taste of strawberry or taste of chocolate?

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If our tongue can sense basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, etc.), how does it sense more complex tastes, like taste of strawberry or taste of chocolate?

In: Biology

That’s actually what your sense of smell is for. This is also why things taste kind of flat when you have a sinus infection because it messes with your sense of smell.

If your eyes can see the basic colors, red yellow orange green blue violet etc., how do your eyes recognize objects and people, emotions on people’s faces, and so on?

Same with sound, your ears can hear frequencies of sound, how do your ears recognize violins vs. pianos, people’s voices, the *meaning* of words and sentences, and so on?

The answer is that your brain does all that, not your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, etc. “Strawberry” and “chocolate” are in your brain, and actually the taste, smell, texture, color, feel, sound they make when squished, all of that is associated in your brain and in your memory with the word “strawberry” and the concept of what a strawberry is. You can just think of the word and almost feel / see / taste a strawberry.

And you learn it from when you’re a baby, as you get exposed to strawberries, cars, people, etc. etc. It’s what your brain does, it’s what all that brainpower is used for, throughout your life.

Ultimately, the taste of a strawberry is a combination of “senses” from the tongue and mouth, all sent to the brain at once over multiple neurons in the nerves associated with the mouth and nose, and then “processed” by the brain.

You can sometimes recognize a movie by just one screenshot of it, but the movie itself is the entire experience of watching it from beginning to end, video, audio, and perhaps popcorn too. The taste of a strawberry is not just an instance of “60% sweet and 40% sour” but the continuous nerve impulses of all the basic tastes, and of the feel of it in your mouth (seeds and all), and the smell of it, for the duration of the experience of you eating it. Thousands of nerve pulses per second, for several seconds.

As another answer had mentioned, it’s our brain that does the work. For a horror story, just know that there exist people with neurological conditions that prevent them from synthesizing small chunk of basic information into bigger one. See this famous book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Mistook_His_Wife_for_a_Hat

If you are willing to use multilayer perception (a type of artificial neural network) as a model of how the brain synthesize information, then it works something like this. Taste buds send signal to other neurons. These neurons received signal differently, so as to recognize most useful basic combination of taste on a small number of taste bud. Then they send signal further up, and the process is repeat, until eventually all information is synthesized.