È noto da tempo che non c’è esperienza del sapore senza olfatto (la lingua è in grado di percepire 4 o al massimo 5 sapori base: salato, dolce, amaro, acido e “glutammico”). Un libro appena pubblicato del professor Gordon M. Shepherd, della Yale School of Medicine, Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters svela i misyteri del nostro sistema olfattivo e delle complesse interazioni tra bocca, naso e cervello. Salon intervista l’autore.
Gordon M. Shepherd, professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, has spent a lifetime researching the brain mechanisms involved in olfaction (our sense of smell) and its impact on flavor perception in the brain. His new book is “Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters,” out this month from Columbia University Press. Shepherd’s work is anchored in a burgeoning field within neuroscience — figuring out the mysteries behind our olfactory system, the ways in which smells are represented and processed in the brain.
Shepherd argues for the quintessential importance of olfaction in our everyday experience of food. Without smell, Shepherd says, there is no flavor. “Neurogastronomy” takes a detailed look at just how smelling in the nose, mouth and brain produces the unique experience of flavor that we associate with eating our favorite or least-favorite foods.