Human Physiology

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Human Physiology (HP1) Practical Report

Experiment on Salivary Secretion and Taste

Khoo Wei Cheng Kevin
BBSD1 1013A
Saliva secreted by the salivary glands in our mouth serves to lubricate the mouth to facilitate speech as well as to moisten food and aids in compacting it into a bolus for digestion. It is an important component in the maintenance of our dental hygiene as it cleanses the mouth. It contains enzymes that can chemically break down starchy food. Saliva also dissolves food chemicals so that they can be tasted and render gustatory satisfaction to the diner. It is secreted by 3 pairs of salivary glands: the parotids, submandibulars and sublinguals. Salivation from these glands is controlled primarily by the parasympathetic nervous system. When food is ingested, salivary nuclei in the brain stem (pons and medulla) receive signals sent from chemoreceptors and mechanoreceptors in the mouth. As a result, facial (VII) and cranial (IX) nerves are innervated and trigger secretion of saliva. Rate of secretion and the composition of saliva depend on type of stimulus used.
Taste plays a vital sense that is important from an evolutionary perspective. There are basically four types of taste sensations: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Sweet taste is produced by organic substances such as sugars, saccharin and some amino acids. Sour taste is elicited by acids whereas salty taste is produced by metal ions (inorganic salts). The bitter taste is elicited by alkaloids such as nicotine, quinine, caffeine and morphine. The preferences for tastes have homeostatic value that is essential to our body’s well being. A preference for sugar and salt helps satisfy the body’s need for carbohydrates and minerals. Sour foods that are naturally acidic are rich sources of vitamin C, an essential vitamin. Our disinclination to consume bitter substances stems…...

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