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2017 Master Brewers Conference
43. Smell, taste, and the biology of flavor

Steven Munger, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, U.S.A.

Friday, October 13
1:45–3:00 p.m.

When you drink a beer, the flavor you perceive depends on your ability to detect a variety of chemicals present in the beverage. Humans and most animals use three sensory systems, collectively known as the chemical senses, to detect these chemicals and to convert that detection into signals the brain can understand. The olfactory and gustatory systems are responsible for detecting odors and tastes, respectively, while chemesthetic compounds like capsaicin and menthol co-opt pain, touch, and temperature sensors in the mouth. Each chemosensory system relies on complex molecular and neurobiological mechanisms to accurately convey the presence of diverse chemicals in food or drink. The brain then processes these signals to arrive at a flavor perception. In this talk, I will discuss basis of flavor perception including: how we detect odors, tastes, and chemesthetic compounds; how these sensory events contribute to our perception of flavor; and how our experiences and our genetics can influence how we perceive food and drink.

Steven D. Munger, Ph.D., is the director of the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, professor and vice-chair of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at UF, and past-president of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences. His research focuses on understanding the molecular and neurobiological basis of odor and taste detection.