Orosensory responsiveness and alcohol behaviour

Margaret Thibodeau, Martha Bajec, Gary Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Consumption of alcoholic beverages is widespread through much of the world, and significantly impacts human health and well-being. We sought to determine the contribution of orosensation (‘taste’) to several alcohol intake measures by examining general responsiveness to taste and somatosensory stimuli in a convenience sample of 435 adults recruited from six cohorts. Each cohort was divided into quantiles based on their responsiveness to sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, metallic, and astringent stimuli, and the resulting quantiles pooled for analysis (Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA). Responsiveness to bitter and astringent stimuli was associated in a non-linear fashion with intake of all alcoholic beverage types, with the highest consumption observed in middle quantiles. Sourness responsiveness tended to be inversely associated with all measures of alcohol consumption. Regardless of sensation, the most responsive quantiles tended to drink less, although sweetness showed little relationship between responsiveness and intake. For wine, increased umami and metallic responsiveness tended to predict lower total consumption and frequency. A limited examination of individuals who abstain from all alcohol indicated a tendency toward higher responsiveness than alcohol consumers to sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness (biserial correlation), suggesting that broadly-tuned orosensory responsiveness may be protective against alcohol use and possibly misuse. Overall, these findings confirm the importance of orosensory responsiveness in mediating consumption of alcohol, and indicate areas for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Early online dateApr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2017

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