What exactly happens when we eat sour things? Why do my eyes, face, and side of neck feel like crinkling? What parts of our brain and chemicals release when we bite/sip sour things?

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What exactly happens when we eat sour things? Why do my eyes, face, and side of neck feel like crinkling? What parts of our brain and chemicals release when we bite/sip sour things?

In: Biology

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Your tastebuds that respond to sour signals are activated, your mucous membranes react (usually “sour” means acid, so they will likely respond by releasing liquid to dilute the acid), and you have reflexive response ingrained into you from genetics and past experiences.

Some of those reflexes cause you to tense up, pull away, and tighten your mouth, often in a “puckering” way. This both encourages liquid or material to leave the mouth, and discourages new material from entering, as your body recognizes intensely sour things as not good (whether or not they actually are.) Your brain may respond with disgust or even pain depending on how sour the food is. Sugars can mask these flavors, causing you to accept them even if they’re unchanged. There’s also a protein, miraculin, which when consumed temporarily blocks the “sour” receptors in your tongue, causing sourness to instead taste sweet.