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Taste Buds

April 20, 2011

A listener asks how many taste buds our tongues have.



How we taste…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Listener Jazmin Fox of Washington, D.C. wrote to ask how many taste buds our tongues have. To find out, we consulted biological scientist Gary Beauchamp of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. He says most people have about 10,000 taste buds.

GARY BEAUCHAMP (Monell Chemical Senses Center):

But there’s great differences between people and so some people have a lot more than others and these people are usually a little bit more sensitive to taste compared to others.


Beauchamp says the reason they’re called taste buds is because they resemble the buds of a plant.


And within each taste bud there are cells that respond to taste substances, some are responding to sweet things, some to bitter things, some to salty things, some to sour things.


And if you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. If we use your question, we’ll send you a Science Update mug! I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.