“If Things Taste Bad, ‘Phantoms’ May Be at Work” by Erica Goode
Professor Richard Straub
In the spring of 1999, an article entitled “If Things Taste Bad, ‘Phantoms’ May Be at Work” by Erica Goode was published in the New York Times. In this article, Goode describes different maladies with the senses. She explains that puzzling taste and smell irregularities are becoming a more popular occurrence. She also describes other “phantoms” which affect the auditory canal, vision spectrum, and the ability to feel pain in an amputated limb. These sensory phantoms are the brain’s reaction to nerves that have experienced damage.
Goode begins her article with Dr. Raymond Fowler, the chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Fowler first experienced sensory abnormity when he ate a piece of raw cabbage and noticed a burning sensation in his mouth. From then on, Dr. Fowler had increase difficulty with taste until he was compelled to seek help from Dr. Linda Bartoshuk.
Dr. Bartoshuk performed numerous tests on Dr. Fowler. Dr. Bartoshuk hypothesized that the problem Dr. Fowler was experiencing was due to some form of sensory phantom. Dr. Fowler went through a series of tests to correctly diagnose the problem. His cranial nerves were tested for taste and pain. A blue dye was applied to his tongue and was video-recorded to show movement. Also, his ability to smell odors and an extensive inspection of his mouth was performed. Through the experimentation and testing, Dr. Bartoshuk concluded that he was, in fact, experiencing a sensory phantom which was caused by damage to the chorda typani, part of the cranial nerve. This nerve sends impulses from the taste buds to the brain.
In another experiment Dr. Bartoshuk and Dr. John Kveton tested the effects of damage to the chorda typani. Participants of the experiments were given a procedure in which anesthetized the chorda...