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Did you know that your ears can actually affect your perception of taste?

Tasting With Your Ears

Oct 20, 2021

Horace Kim

Did you know that your ears can actually affect your perception of taste?

It turns out your ears are responsible for a lot more than just your hearing! The mechanism of tasting is also more complex than you might think - neural pathways run from your taste buds to your brain to transmit different tastes. One of the largest branches of the facial nerve is known as the chorda tympani (CTN) and it is responsible for carrying information from the anterior part of the tongue. The CTN passes through the middle ear to send taste information to the brain from the tongue. Due to the CTN’s pathway through the middle ear (right above the eardrum), it is very susceptible to injury from middle ear trauma - which can occur during surgeries such as cochlear implantation.

A 2013 study was done in Beijing during which 180 patients received cochlear implants without any damage to their chorda tympani nerve - afterwards they did not experience any taste disturbance or taste loss. Other studies have found that CTN damage sustained during middle ear surgeries did correlate with post-op patients experiencing a change in taste. Nowadays ear surgeons take extra care to not compromise the chorda tympani nerve during these types of procedures. 

Your ear health is important for more than just your ability to hear well. Hearing loss and being hard of hearing can affect your health in more ways than you might think. Start learning about how your hearing affects your health in our new blog series with Ceretone, as we explore the best ways to keep your hearing in tip-top shape weekly!