Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Sour Grapes ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Sour Grapes
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: kenn-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 31 Mar 2003 08:27 PST
Expires: 30 Apr 2003 09:27 PDT
Question ID: 183665
I've noticed that while eating sour foods, the sourness over time
loses its "edge" from the very first time I tasted it; if I wait a few
hours, though, before tasting something sour again, the tangyness
comes back. I suppose this is a two-part question:

Am I alone in this? If not, if there's a scientific explanation for
this, then please explain!
Subject: Re: Sour Grapes
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 31 Mar 2003 09:52 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello Kenn-ga, and thanks for an interesting question.

No, you are not alone.  The phenomenon you are describing is
well-known, and is usually called "taste adaptation" -- the fact that
the initial "shock" to the taste buds of a sour (or sweet, or any
other) taste is quickly attenuated as the cells in the taste buds
approach saturation of the chemicals causing the taste, and no longer
fire as rapidly.

A few sites that discuss taste adaptation are:

Cornell University:

Taste Adaptation:

First sip = a shock to the mouth (compared to second, third sips,
Adaptation = decrease in response under conditions of constant

easily observed with stable stimulus (spatial control, no temp or
has decaying exponential and inverse recovery, period of minutes

After adaptation to different tastants, water takes on various tastes
Sequential effects and rinsing are influential!


Mansfield University

Physiological Psychology of Taste


University at Buffalo

Chemical Senses II - Taste Flavor


Taste - A brief tutorial


And some experimental results on the different adaption rates for
sweet and sour tastes:

Taste adaptation, a gradual decline of taste intensity with prolonged
stimulation, is frequently observed in laboratory experiments.
However, during normal eating the taste of food does not seem to
decrease or disappear. We studied whether taste adaptation occurs when
subjects eat yogurt, sweetened with two concentrations sucrose (3.75
and 7.5%). During 90s subjects could eat as much yogurt as they
wanted, and judged the taste intensity at 5, 35 and 95s. In addition,
we examined whether taste adaptation measured with a filter paper
method is related to taste adaptation when eating yogurt.

During the eating of yogurt, sweetness intensity declined with time,
whereas sourness intensity did not. This may be due to a higher rate
of recovery from sourness adaptation. In addition, release from
mixture suppression may have completely counteracted sourness
adaptation, whereas the effect of release from sweetness suppression
may be smaller than the effect of adaptation to sweetness.


Hope this is helpful, but if you need any additional information, just
post a Request for Clarification, and let me know.
kenn-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Not only did the reviewer answer my question well, he also gave
excerpts from each of the important sites on the topic; I appreciate
the hard work!

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy