Thermal taster subgroups and orosensory responsiveness dataset

Margaret Thibodeau, Martha Bajec, Anthony Saliba, Gary Pickering

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Thermal taste is a phenomenon whereby some individuals, known as thermal tasters (TT) experience taste sensations when their tongue is warmed or cooled. It was first reported in 2000 by Cruz and Green [1] and since then, most research has focused on comparing TT to thermal non-tasters (TnT; individuals who do not experience thermally-elicited sensations). As TT rate the intensity of taste stimuli higher than TnT, understanding the nature of this difference may help inform how individual differences in taste perception impact consumer liking and consumption of food and beverages. However, as the mechanism(s) underlying thermal tasting are yet to be fully elucidated, it is unclear if TT should be considered a homogeneous group or if subgroups exist. We created a dataset to help determine if the orosensory advantage is universal across all TT, or if it is mainly attributable to one or more subgroups of TT. To this end, the thermal taste screening data of 297 TT from 12 previous recruitment drives (‘cohorts’) was combined. This created the largest dataset of TT reported to date in a single study, allowing for an in-depth analysis of the differences between TT. After training on appropriate scale use, participants were familiarized with common taste and chemesthetic stimuli (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami, astringent and metallic). Using a sip-and-spit protocol, participants rinsed with the stimuli and rated the maximum intensity each stimulus elicited on a generalized Visual Analogue Scale (gVAS) or a generalized Labeled Magnitude Scale (gLMS). To account for minor methodological differences between the cohorts, ratings from each cohort were first converted to z-scores before being combined into the overall dataset. Next, participants underwent a series of 12 trials that assessed response to a thermal elicitation device during which each combination of two temperature regimes (warming and cooling) and three lingual sites (tongue tip, 1 cm to left, 1 cm to the right) were examined in duplicate. Participants were asked to rate the maximum intensity of any sensations experienced during each trial. TT were classified into subgroups based on the type of thermally-elicited taste reported (typically sweet, sour, salty, bitter, metallic), the temperature regime during which the sensation was elicited (warming or cooling) and the location on the tongue tested at which the sensation was experienced. Figures are provided that show the mean intensity ratings of aqueous solutions of chemical stimuli and corresponding standard errors for each of the TT subgroups. In addition, the TT Subgroup Naming Conventions provided should allow for a consistent and clear use of terminology across future thermal taste research. Readers are referred to Homogeneity of thermal tasters and implications for mechanisms and classification [2] for a full discussion of how these findings inform our understanding of the mechanism(s) underlying thermal taste and the practical implications of methodological differences in determining thermal taste status.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106325
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalData in Brief
Early online date20 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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