Taste Flashes

Sensory stores exist in realms other than vision and hearing. Kelling and Halpern (1983) studied "taste flashes" produced by a special apparatus. It applied salt or saccharin solution to the tongue for 100, 200, 300 or 1000 milliseconds, then quickly washed it away with distilled water. This was supposed to be analogous to the flash of letters in the Sperling task, because the stimulus ended long before the subject could report it.

How was the "taste flash" experiment carried out, and what did it reveal?

Taste recognition accuracy was 68% for salt and 94% for saccharin even at the shortest pulse duration: 100 milliseconds. There must be some kind of "gustatory sensory register" that preserves the taste information from such a short pulse, otherwise the sensation would have disappeared before subjects could identify it.


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Copyright © 2007 Russ Dewey