The Italian multicentric study on centenarians (IMSC) was aimed at assessing the level of preservation of the sense of taste, and at estimating to what extent the recognition of various gustative stimuli can give satisfaction and information regarding the surrounding environment for the centenarians. Taste sensitivity has been qualitatively established in a group of 126 Italian centenarians (mean age 101.9 ± 1.4 years) and compared to that of a group of 100 elderly subjects (mean age 70.5 ± 5.0 years). All the individuals included in the study groups had a mini mental state examination (MMSE) score larger than 19. The results revealed that taste sensitivity is significantly reduced in the centenarians; as a matter of fact, the elderly control subjects are able to perceive taste stimuli in 84.25 ± 3.40% of the testing, while the centenarians were successful only in 74.23 ± 6.19% of the experiments (P <0.001). Furthermore, elderly subjects can correctly recognize taste stimuli in 70% of the testings, while correct recognition amounted only to 49.25% in cases of centenarians assessed. In spite of these differences between the elderly and centenarians, the latter are still able to perceive and recognize taste stimuli adequately, and as a consequence, are able to obtain information on tastes and receive a sufficient sensory stimulation through the tasting pathway.
- Sense of taste
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