On our tongues, we have up to 10,000 taste buds that can distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savoury flavours.
As food is dissolved by our saliva, it meets taste receptor cells inside the taste buds that, when stimulated, send signals to the cerebral cortex. Receptors in the tongue also respond to other stimuli like pain, temperature and pressure.
The tongue consists of eight muscles: four of them are extrinsic muscles that are anchored to bone and change the position of the tongue, and four are intrinsic muscles that are notanchored to bone and change the shape of the organ.
Besides guiding food as we chew and swallow it, these muscles also give us the ability to speak. In combination with the mouth, Jaws and cheeks the tongue moves to articulate sounds that emanate from the vocal folds of the larynx.
Genioglossus extrinsic muscle – Sticks out the tongue and can depress the centre of it.
Tongue – Taste buds cluster around papillae, which are protrusions on the surface of the tongue. The intrinsic muscles are contained in the tongue.
Styloglossus extrinsic muscle – Moves the tongue upwards and can also retract it.