Tongue measuring experiment in Nottingham cafe shows why some people hate broccoli

Video: Susan Roden finding out if she’s a ‘supertaster’

Nottingham people can find out why some hate the taste of things like broccoli and coffee in an unusual cafe science project.

The Cafe Connect event is running at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery until Friday, featuring experts from the University of Nottingham,

During the unusual research, people can find out if they are ‘supertasters’ or ‘non-tasters’.

The concept explains why certain people hate tastes such as coffee, whereas others have more of a preference towards fatty food.

It’s done by asking participants to put a piece of paper on their tongue, containing a chemical compound called ‘PROP’ – and ‘supertasters’ will taste bitterness.

About 25 per cent of people, or one in four, will not taste the bitterness.

Photos are also taken of everyone’s tongues to see if there’s a noticeable difference in the papillae – tiny red dots – on the tongue.

Do you hate broccoli? You may be a ‘supertaster’.

Qian Yang, who is helping run the activity, said: “We want to see how it would affect preferences and food choice behaviours to help people to understand why they choose certain foods.

“You could use this to master cooking techniques to encourage supertasters to eat more vegetables.”

Susan Roden, 77, has no sense of smell which affects her taste and found that she was a ‘moderate taster’.

She said: “I helped with the research and find it interesting, because when I was in my late 50s I got my one and only A-Level in Psychology so I know how much studying goes into this research.

“Taking part widens your horizons.”

If the paper is bitter, you’re a supertaster

PhD student Imogen Ramsay found out she was a ‘supertaster’.

“I think it’s good because the public might now know and it’s a fun, quick and easy way to find out something about themselves,” she said.

“Even I was surprised.”

Jo Ablewhite, the project manager for Cafe Connect said: “It’s about breaking down barriers and making these sorts of things accessible to people so they’re not being asked to visit the university campus.

“The more we can engage and the more research we can produce that is higher quality by having this engagement, the more it’s like real life.”

Other activities at the event include research into hearing, focus groups around self harm and eating disorders, as well as a study that looks into why people can’t find certain things.

Can you find the blue and yellow egg?

Dr Harriet Allen, an assistant professor at the School of Psychology at the University, is running the activity which asks participants to pick out a blue and yellow egg from an array of differently coloured eggs.

She said: “It’s often said in lab studies that older people are worse at finding things, but lab studies are letters on the screen so we don’t know how that translates to the real world.

“We want to do stuff in the real world.”

The study had previously been done in a park, where eggs were spread around an area and people were asked to find them.

Dr Allen said: “What we can do is help people understand why they find things more or less difficult.

“At this point it’s more about disseminating that knowledge and saying, well that’s why you find it harder to find a book in a bookshelf because they’re all very similar to each other.

“For people who are taking part, we’re having discussions about their own experiences and trying to relate it to real life.”

How Loud is Loud? Find out how quickly sound can damage your hearing as part of the event.


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