JOURNAL OF TEXTURE STUDIES, vol.46, no.6, pp.429-439, 2015 (SCI-Expanded)
The sensation and perception of food texture is regulated by tactile-dominated mechanisms and therefore, it is believed that one's capability in discriminating food textural properties could be related to one's tactile sensitivity. However, evidence to support this hypothesis is currently not available. This work aims to test this hypothesis by examining tactile sensitivity of individuals' (touch detection threshold and two-point discrimination threshold) and texture discrimination capability. A range of soft-solid food samples with controlled firmness and elastic moduli were designed for textural discrimination tests. A total of 32 healthy subjects threshold of touch detection was found to be 0.028 g for the fingertip and 0.013 g for the tongue. Similarly, the mean threshold of two-point discrimination was 1.42 mm and 0.62 mm for the fingertip and tongue, respectively. Threshold for firmness discrimination (compressing until yielding) of the gel samples was 13.3% for the fingertip and 11.1% for the tongue. However, the elasticity discrimination threshold (by gentle pressing) of the population was found to be much smaller at 2.3% and 1.2% for the fingertip and the tongue respectively. Results show that tongue is slightly more sensitive than the fingertip in discriminating food texture (P < 0.05). An expected correlation between individual's capability of texture discrimination and their tactile sensitivity was not observed.