We investigated the ability of subjects to discriminate sugars with a whole-mouth forced-choice paradigm, in which a standard solution was compared with a test solution of varied concentration. Discrimination probabilities were U-shaped functions of test concentration: for 6 subjects and pairwise combinations of fructose, glucose, and sucrose, discriminability always declined to chance over a narrow range of test concentrations. At concentrations ≦ 100 mM, maltose was indiscriminable from fructose but discriminable at higher concentrations for 4 subjects. By analogy with the monochromacy of night vision, whereby any two lights are indiscriminable when their relative intensities are suitably adjusted, we call the gustatory indiscriminability of these sugars monogeusia. The simplest account of monogeusia is that all information about the indiscriminable sugars is represented by a single neural signal that varies only in magnitude. The discriminability of maltose from the other sugars at higher concentrations is consistent with the hypothesis that maltose also activates a second gustatory code.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Sensory Systems