How well you taste is also impacted by how well you smell. What you perceive as taste is a complex interaction of tongue-tasting and nose-smelling. Chewing your food forces air up into your nose, which carries chemicals that trigger olfactory receptors. The olfactory receptors are distance chemoreceptors, meaning they do not have to make direct contact with the food itself. They pick up the chemical odors and translate them into electrical signals that travel to the brain via the nervous system. Together your taste buds and olfactory receptors notify the brain of what they are picking up and the sensation of ‘flavor’ is created. The gustatory cortex located near the back of the brain next to centers that control chewing and swallowing, decode taste. Estimates are that about 25% of the population are ‘supertasters.’ They have a heightened sense of taste, due in part to a higher density of taste buds and to subtle brain differences in how taste is decoded. As you enjoy your ability to smell and taste, thank the taste buds on your tongue, the olfactory receptors in your nose--and the decoding centers in your brain. Without them, your life would definitely be lacking in flavor.