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Science
CASE NOTES
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 30 December
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
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Tuesday 30 December 2008
A young woman poking out her tongue

Full programme transcript >>

Taste
 
In the first episode of a new series of Case Notes, Dr Mark Porter investigates taste.

He visits Bristol University to meet Lucy Donaldson, senior lecturer in physiology and pharmacology, who is one of the UK's leading experts on taste.  Dr Donaldson tests Mark's sense of taste and how receptive he is to bitter flavours.  

Taste and smell

Taste is closely linked to another sense - smell.

When we get a blocked nose, we often notice that food tastes bland, but someone who has lost their sense of smell completely can’t even tell the difference between liquidised apple and onion.

Mark hears from Zoe Adams who lost her sense of smell when she developed a rare complication after a heavy cold. 

Her olfactory nerve, which controls our sense of smell, was damaged to such an extent that she began smelling smells and tasting tastes which weren't really there, and she could no longer enjoy the foods she used to.

Fussy eaters

Persuading young children to eat anything savoury is something that many parents struggle with.

But could the mother's diet while pregnant influence their child's culinary likes and dislikes.

Flavours from our diet pass in to the amniotic fluid surrounding baby, and he or she can start to smell and taste them from around the six month of pregnancy – a process that continues with breastfeeding.

Mark talks to Julie Mennella, a biopsychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia about the effect of maternal diet on a child’s palate.

She explains that a child’s tastes will be largely determined by a combination of genes, the tastes and flavours they are exposed to in the womb and the breast milk, and their natural tendency to favour sweet and salty foods.

Next week: Antibiotics
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