The Effects Of Taste Stimuli On Heart Rate Essay

The Effects Of Taste Stimuli On Heart Rate Essay

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In humans, taste and olfaction are used to distinguish nutrient rich foods from disadvantageous substances. Food stimulus has been shown to induce fast autonomic nervous system response, such as heart rate variations. Unpleasant taste stimulus has been correlated with tachycardia, an increase of the heart rate (Muroni, Crnjar, & Barbarossa, 2011). In a 2014 study, Chatsantiprapa et al. determined that moderate red hot chili consumption, a spicy stimulus, heightened arousal levels in the nervous system and temporary increased systolic blood pressure (Chatsantiprapa, Hurst, Thepsuthammarat, Thapunkaw, & Khrisanapant, 2014). A strong positive correlation has been found between short-term systolic blood pressure and heart rate (Polinski, Kot, & Meresta, 2011). These findings lead to our hypothesis for this experiment, that the ingestion of spicy foods results in an increase in heart rate.
A previous experiment testing the effects of taste stimuli on heart rate found that the maximum increase in heart rate occurred about 25 seconds after the stimulus was administered. Additionally, higher heart rate increases were obtained with higher concentrations of each taste stimuli (Horio, 2000). Thus we decided to measure the effect of three increasing intervals of the same spicy stimulus. We used wasabi peas at one pea, five pea, and ten pea intervals because they were easy to quantify. Additionally, we measured the subjects’ heart rate 20 seconds after the stimulus was consumed, so as to capture the height of its cardiac effect.


To examine the effect of spicy food on heart rate, the baseline heart rate of four test subjects (n=4), ages 19 to 36, was recorded for 30 seconds. This electrocardiogram (ECG) was recorded using Biopac...

... middle of paper ...

...on increased heart rate (Muroni, Crnjar, & Barbarossa, 2011). I theorize that this opposing phenomenon, which mimics the sensation of fight or flight, represents a natural punishment mechanism, discouraging the consumption of non-beneficial, or even dangerous, foods. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that the increase in heart rate seen in our experiment occurred not because the stimulus was spicy, but rather because the stimulus was unpleasant.
There were a few potential sources of error in this experiment. It is possible that the small sample size may have skewed the results, leading to unrepresentative data. Physical movement may have been a confounding variable as well. Due to the limitations of the lab setting, subjects had to consume the wasabi peas outside of the lab and then walk about 20 feet back into the lab before their heart rates could be measured.

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