Variability of oral/taste sensitivity to fat: An investigation of attribution from detection threshold methods with repeated measurements

Ju Won Choi, Ji Yun Hong, Jin Byung Park, Hye Seong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Accumulating psychophysical evidence suggests substantial individual variability in oral/taste sensitivity to non-esterified, long-chain fatty acids (NEFA), which is commonly referred to as fat taste or oleogustus. Recent studies have sought to determine its associations with human factors such as body mass index (BMI) and food preferences, as it has been claimed that excessive fat consumption is related to several health conditions, including obesity. Yet, the findings are controversial. On the other hand, it has been noted that considerable variability also occurs based on the methodology used to measure the fatty acid taste. Specifically, learning effects have been observed over repeated measurements of the detection threshold of NEFA, yet there has been no methodology available to take into account these learning effects. Accordingly, in the present study, a novel methodology using a descending-block dual reminder A-Not A (DR A-Not A) method with a warm-up has been proposed to measure the NEFA detection threshold based on the signal detection theory and considering NEFA taste learning effects over repeated sessions. Homogeneous subjects (young adult Korean females within the normal BMI range, non-vegetarians) were randomized to either the novel descending-block DR A-Not A method or ascending triangle method that is commonly used for fat perception studies. Pure oleic acid emulsions were used as fat taste stimuli to be discriminated from pure mineral water. Each subject completed 14 repeated visits. For the ascending triangle method, 14 thresholds were determined using a stopping rule, while for the novel method, 7 thresholds were determined each per two consecutive days, using a criterion of a lower limit of 50% confidence interval of d' = 0.5, considering the practical aspects of taste studies in food sensory science. Based on the group median results of the last two visits, the variability of the detection thresholds was reduced using the novel descending-block DR A-Not A method due to better learning effects over repeated sessions. This shows the potential of the descending-block DR A-Not A threshold method for further studies on oral/taste sensitivity to fat.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112432
JournalFood Research International
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Ascending triangle method
  • Dual reminder A-Not A
  • Fat sensitivity
  • Fatty acid taste
  • Individual variability
  • Psychophysical measurement
  • Signal detection theory
  • Taste detection thresholds


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