Salivary changes in solution pH: A source of individual differences in sour taste perception

Carol M. Christensen, Joseph G. Brand, Daniel Malamud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of saliva in sour taste perception was investigated in a series of 4 experiments. In one pair of experiments, solution pH was measured before and after acetic, citric or hydrochloric acid solutions were mixed with saliva either normally in the oral cavity or after saliva was directly added to solutions. The results showed that large increases in solution pH occurred over a wide range of acid concentrations and that the changes in pH were related to individual salivary flow rates; greater increases in solution pH occurred among those individuals with higher flow rates. The other pair of experiments measured taste threshold and suprathreshold responses to different volumes of acids. The results demonstrated that individuals with high salivary flow rates were less sensitive to the taste of acids and that large volumes of acid were more easily perceived. The pattern of findings suggest that saliva-induced changes in solution pH are important in sour taste perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-227
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987


  • Acids
  • Individual differences
  • Saliva
  • Salivary buffers
  • Sour taste
  • Taste perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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