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Body & Brain

Fat joins suite of tastes, plus crossword vision, metastasis clues and more in this week’s news

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5:31pm, June 9, 2011

The taste of fat
Fat may be ready to join the ranks of sweet, bitter, sour, salty and savory as the sixth basic kind of taste. Fat molecules trigger responses from taste cells in mice by hitting a particular molecular sensor, scientists report in the June 8 Journal of Neuroscience. The results argue against the predominant view that fat is tasteless, loveable for its texture. Mice engineered to lack the newly identified fat sensor, a protein called TRPM5, on their taste cells no longer preferred fat-laced liquid, researchers from Utah State University in Logan show. Figuring out how cells sense and respond to fat may help scientists understand why it’s so hard to resist fatty foods. —Laura Sanders  


Crossword-puzzle vision
Taste preferences aside, the brain may prefer the chocolate cookies in an Oreo better over the cream filling. People pick out black shapes from a noisy background q

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