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Two New Discoveries: A Neuron And A Sixth Taste

The problem with science and medicine is that these are very fluid disciplines, with new discoveries being made every few years or so in the past. Nowadays, those discoveries just sprout up every single day. And while that’s a good thing, in general, for the Med Student, it means one thing: You cannot be comfortable with what you already know. And your books, will never be iron-clad, static sources of facts and knowledge. 

Thus, today, we bring you two discoveries that may change some details in anatomy and physiology books in the future.

There May Be A “Sixth Sense” On The Tongue

Ever wonder how you can taste and savor water, plus the relief that it brings you, even though science says that we only have “four” types of taste: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, and only relatively recently has the “Umami” taste been added to the list? Well, prepare for one more: The “taste” of water is now being studied, as Caltech lead researcher Yuki Oka has hypothesized:

How we sense water in the mouth was unknown. Many insect species are known to 'taste' water, so we imagined that mammals also might have a machinery in the taste system for water detection.

In their findings, water’s “taste” receptors have closely been linked to the Sour taste receptors. Read more on Caltech’s official press release.

There’s A “Neighborhood Cell” In Your Brain, And It’s Keeping You From Getting Lost

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam have discovered a specific cell in your brain, specifically in the perirhinal cortex, that helps you determine the structures in your environment, and how to navigate around them.

These cells were dubbed by the researchers as the “neighborhood cells,” and these allow you to navigate through life without getting lost. These cells work in conjunction with your “hippocampal place cells,” which handle the finer details of your location.

Learning about this is a breakthrough, as medical researchers can now set about finding the solutions for the degeneration of these cells in Alzheimer’s patients. Hopefully soon, treatments will be developed based on this new information.

Read more on Futurism.

What Does This All Mean?

For some of us, it may be mindblowing to learn that not everything that needs to be learned about the human body, least of all, the human senses and neural functions, have already been learned and exhausted. Medical students may groan about how they will have a few more things to learn in the future, but isn’t that what science is all about? Learning something new every day.

So, listen to the late great Steve Jobs’ exhortation: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” Learn a new thing every day.

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