Wacky flavor preferences linked to dementia

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Indy Lifestyle Online

It's not just memory that you need to be concerned about losing with dementia - according to a new study the disorder is also responsible for losing the ability to decipher individual flavors and developing wacky flavor combination preferences.

A British-American research team from Washington University and City University London analyzed flavor processing with a group of patients suffering from Semantic dementia (SD), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder also referred to as Pick's disease and published their results in the June edition of the international journal Cortex.

The participants in the study were asked to taste a wide flavor-spectrum of jellybeans in order "to discriminate and identify flavours and to assess flavour combinations according to their appropriateness and pleasantness" in the same way as healthy counterparts. Those living with SD were not able to identify individual flavors or determine the "appropriateness" of combinations like vanilla and pickle. However, they easily evaluated different flavors "normally" and selected flavor combinations that were both pleasant or not.

This groundbreaking research shows that the brain plays an integral role in unusual eating preferences and highlights how the brain manages and evaluates flavors and tastes.

Also the "vanilla and pickle" combination may not be so unusual, take a look at food blogger Michele Humes' Alinea's Tasting Menu Expressed in Jelly Beans post on April 20. http://michelehumes.com/2010/04/20/alineas-tasting-menu-expressed-in-jelly-beans

The full study "Flavour processing in semantic dementia" will be published in the journal Cortex, Volume 46, Issue 6 (June 2010), by Elsevier in Italy: ( http://www.elsevier.com/locate/cortex)

For more information on SD, go to: http://www.cerebralfunctionunit.co.uk/SDinfosheet.html

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