Heterogeneous binary interactions of taste primaries: Perceptual outcomes, physiology, and future directions

Lynn M. Wilkie, Elizabeth D. Capaldi Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Complex taste experiences arise from the combinations of five taste primaries. Here we review the literature on binary interactions of heterogeneous taste primaries, focusing on perceptual results of administering mixtures of aqueous solutions to human participants. Some interactions proved relatively consistent across tastants and experimental methods: sour acids enhanced saltiness, salts and sweeteners suppressed bitterness, sweeteners suppressed sourness, and sour acids enhanced bitterness. However, for the majority of interactions there were differential effects based on the tastants and their concentrations. Drawing conclusions about interactions with umami is currently not possible due to the low number of primary source studies investigating it and the confounding sodium ions in monosodium glutamate (MSG). Speculative physiological explanations are provided that fit the current data and suggestions for future research studies are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-86
Number of pages17
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Nov 2014


  • Bitter
  • Salty
  • Sour
  • Sweet
  • Taste interactions
  • Taste perception
  • Taste primaries
  • Umami

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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