Myth: There are different sections of the tongue that sense different tastes.
Fact: Every part of the tongue includes receptors for every basic taste.
The origin of the concept of tongue map dates back to 1901 when a German scientist named D.P. Hanig published a paper which suggested that different parts of the tongue were responsible for recognizing the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. In 1942, a Harvard psychologist Edwin G Boring, took this paper, calculated numbers for the level of sensitivity and published his own paper. Although this paper showed minute differences in threshold detection across the tongue, it was taken out of context and showed as a difference in sensitivity in textbooks and thus the tongue map myth was born.
In 1974 Hanig’s paper was re-examined by Virginia Collings. It was found out that although there were variations of sensitivity to the basic tastes around the tongue, they were small and insignificant. More importantly it was confirmed that there were taste receptors everywhere on the tongue and hence all the tastes exist in all parts of the tongue. Hence tongue map is a myth and it can be easily confirmed by placing salt on the tip of your tongue, the area meant to only sense sweet flavours. However the tongue map is still printed in textbooks and taught by teachers at school, which is quite baffling.