The effect of taste on swallowing: A scoping and systematic review

Rachel Mulheren, Ross M. Westemeyer, Angela M. Dietsch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Consuming foods and liquids for nutrition requires the coordination of several muscles. Swallowing is triggered and modified by sensory inputs from the aerodigestive tract. Taste has recently received attention as a potential modulator of swallowing physiology, function, and neural activation; additionally, taste impairment is a sequela of COVID-19. This review presents factors impacting taste and swallowing, systematically summarizes the existing literature, and assesses the quality of included studies. A search was conducted for original research including taste stimulation, deglutition-related measure(s), and human participants. Study design, independent and dependent variables, and participant characteristics were coded; included studies were assessed for quality and risk of bias. Forty-eight articles were included after abstract and full-text review. Synthesis was complicated by variable sensory components of stimuli (taste category and intensity, pure taste vs. flavor, chemesthesis, volume/amount, consistency, temperature), participant characteristics, confounding variables such as genetic taster status, and methods of measurement. Most studies had a high risk of at least one type of bias and were of fair or poor quality. Interpretation is limited by wide variability in methods, taste stimulation, confounding factors, and lower-quality evidence. Existing studies suggest that taste can modulate swallowing, but more rigorous and standardized research is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1256-1282
Number of pages27
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2024


  • Deglutition
  • flavor
  • genetic taster status
  • swallowing
  • taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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