An automated method to detect and quantify fungiform papillae in the human tongue: validation and relationship to phenotypical differences in taste perception

Eldeghaidy, Sally and Thomas, Daniel and Skinner, Martha and Ford, Rebecca L. and Giesbrecht, Timo and Thomas, Anna and Hort, Joanne and Francis, Susan T. (2018) An automated method to detect and quantify fungiform papillae in the human tongue: validation and relationship to phenotypical differences in taste perception. Physiology & Behavior, 184 . pp. 226-234. ISSN 1873-507X

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Abstract

Determination of the number of fungiform papillae (FP) on the human tongue is an important measure that has frequently been associated with individual differences in oral perception, including taste sensitivity. At present, there is no standardised method consistently used to identify the number of FP, and primarily scientists manually count papillae over a small region(s) of the anterior tip of a stained tongue. In this study, a rapid automated method was developed to quantify the number of FP across the anterior 2 cm of an unstained tongue from high resolution digital images. In 60 participants, the automated method was validated against traditional manual counting, and then used to assess the relationship between the number of FP and taste phenotype (both 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) and Thermal Taster Status). FP count on the anterior 2 cm of the tongue was found to correlate significantly with PROP taster status. PROP supertasters (PSTs) had a significantly higher FP count compared with PROP non-tasters (PNTs). Conversely, the common approach used to determine the number of FP in a small 6 mm diameter circle on the anterior tongue tip, did not show a significant correlation irrespective of whether it was determined via automated or manual counting. The regional distribution of FP was assessed across PROP taster status groups. PSTs had a significantly higher FP count within the first centimetre of the anterior tongue compared with the PNT and PROP medium-tasters (PMT), with no significant difference in the second centimetre. No significant relationship was found with Thermal Taster Status and FP count, or interaction with PROP taster status groups, supporting previous evidence suggesting these phenomena are independent. The automated method is a valuable tool, enabling reliable quantification of FP over the anterior 2 cm surface of the tongue, and overcomes subjective discrepancies in manual counting.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Fungiform papillae, PROP, thermal taster status, tongue images, automated counting, colour segmentation
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences > Division of Food Sciences
University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.12.003
Depositing User: Francis, Susan
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2017 09:45
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2018 09:17
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/48585

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