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Obesity tied to weakened response to taste

August 26, 2019
Binghamton University
Obesity is connected with a reduced response to taste, according to a new study.

Obesity is connected with a reduced response to taste, according to a new study featuring faculty at Binghamton University, State of University of New York.

Taste perception is known to change with obesity, but the underlying neural changes remain poorly understood.

"It's surprising that we know so little about how taste is affected by obesity, given that the taste of food is a big factor in determining what we choose to eat," said Binghamton University Professor of Psychology Patricia Di Lorenzo.

To address this issue, a team of researchers including Di Lorenzo and former graduate student Michael Weiss aimed to detail the effects of obesity on responses to taste stimuli in the nucleus tractus solitarius, a part of the brain involved with taste processing. The researchers recorded the responses to taste stimuli from single cells in the brainstem of rats that were made obese by eating a high-fat diet. They found that taste responses in these obese rats were smaller in magnitude, shorter in duration and took longer to develop, compared with those in lean rats.

These results suggest that a high-fat diet produces blunted, but more prevalent, responses to taste in the brain, and a weakened association of taste responses with ingestive behavior.

While Di Lorenzo stressed that these findings currently only apply to rats, she said that this same process could possibly translate to humans.

"Others have found that the number of taste buds on the tongue are diminished in obese mice and humans, so the likelihood that taste response in the human brain is also blunted is good," said Di Lorenzo.

She and her team are looking into the effects of gastric bypass surgery on brainstem responses to see if this procedure can recover some or all of the deficits in the taste system.

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Materials provided by Binghamton University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Michael S. Weiss, Andras Hajnal, Krzysztof Czaja, Patricia M. Di Lorenzo. Taste Responses in the Nucleus of the Solitary Tract of Awake Obese Rats Are Blunted Compared With Those in Lean Rats. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 2019; 13 DOI: 10.3389/fnint.2019.00035

Cite This Page:

Binghamton University. "Obesity tied to weakened response to taste." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2019. <>.
Binghamton University. (2019, August 26). Obesity tied to weakened response to taste. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 5, 2023 from
Binghamton University. "Obesity tied to weakened response to taste." ScienceDaily. (accessed December 5, 2023).

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