FIGURE 2. Encoding of taste qualities at the periphery.

From the following article:

The receptors and cells for mammalian taste

Jayaram Chandrashekar, Mark A. Hoon, Nicholas J. P. Ryba & Charles S. Zuker

Nature 444, 288-294(16 November 2006)

doi:10.1038/nature05401

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There are two opposing views of how taste qualities are encoded in the periphery. a, In the labelled-line model, receptor cells are tuned to respond to single taste modalities — sweet, bitter, sour, salty or umami — and are innervated by individually tuned nerve fibres. In this case, each taste quality is specified by the activity of non-overlapping cells and fibres. b,c, Two contrasting models of what is known as the 'across-fibre pattern'. This states that either individual TRCs are tuned to multiple taste qualities (indicated by various tones of grey and multicoloured stippled nuclei), and consequently the same afferent fibre carries information for more than one taste modality (b), or that TRCs are still tuned to single taste qualities but the same afferent fibre carries information for more than one taste modality (c). In these two models, the specification of any one taste quality is embedded in a complex pattern of activity across various lines. Recent molecular and functional studies in mice have demonstrated that different TRCs define the different taste modalities, and that activation of a single type of TRC is sufficient to encode taste quality, strongly supporting the labelled-line model.

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