- gustatory hallucination
- Also known as gustatory phantasma and hallucination of taste. The term gustatory hallucination is indebted to the Latin noun gustus,which means taste. It is used to denote a taste sensation occurring in the absence of an appropriate tas-tant. Gustatory hallucinations tend to be enduring, unpleasant taste sensations qualified simply in terms of bitter, sour, sweet, 'disgusting', etc. However, they can also be described in more specific terms such as chloroform, charcoal, tobacco, rusty iron, blood, sperm, bile, garlic, grilled peanuts, oysters, and mussels. Reports of pleasant taste sensations are rare. Most gustatory hallucinations are experienced as bilateral sensations. Unilateral gustatory hallucinations have occasionally been reported in association with contralateral epileptic seizures. Traditionally gustatory hallucinations have been distinguished from *taste disorders that are not classified as hallucinations, i.e. ageusia, hypogeusia, *dysgeusia, *hypergeusia, and taste agnosia. Pathophysiolog-ically, the mediation of gustatory hallucinations is associated primarily with aberrant neuronal discharges in the primary gustatory areas, which are tentatively located in the temporal and/or parietal lobes. Theoretically, however, they can be mediated by any part of the taste delivery system. The anatomical correlates of this system are only partially known, but are believed to include the hippocampus, amygdala, peripheral taste nerves, and the tongue's taste cells. In the latter case it has been suggested that tonic stimulation of the taste cells may play a part in their mediation. Etio-logically, the centrally mediated type of gustatory hallucination is associated primarily with * aurae occurring in the context of paroxysmal neurological disorders such as epilepsy and migraine. However, it has also been described in the context of psychiatric disorders such as * psychotic disorder, mood disorder, and *dissociation. As noted in 1911 by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939), "The schizophrenic hallucinations of taste and smell have no special characteristics. The patients taste sperm, blood, faeces, and all sorts of poison in their food. Soap is tasted in the noodles; grease in the coffee. Something dusty and something bitter in taste is blown towards them. Bad smells and poisons are forced into their mouths so that they have no other recourse than to stuff their mouths full of wool or rags, till they turn blue." Whether the neuro-biological correlates of such gustatory hallucinations are equal to those in * gustatory aurae is as yet unknown. Clinical reports of gustatory hallucinations tend to be rare. And yet cross-sectional epidemiological studies indicate that more than 10% of the general, non-institutionalized population are aware of having experienced one or more gustatory hallucinations. The clinical assessment of gustatory hallucinations is notoriously difficult, due to their relative rarity, their susceptibility to suggestion, and confounding factors such as the - prior - presence of food or drink in the oral cavity, smoking, the use of therapeutics or illicit substances, local medical conditions such as rhinitis and oral candidiasis, and general medical conditions such as influenza. In addition, their assessment is complicated by the close relation between the sense of smell and the sense of taste. Gustatory hallucinations are easily confused with * olfactory hallucinations, while in some studies they are considered inseparable, and therefore jointly referred to as *chemosensory disorders.ReferencesBleuler, E. (1950). Dementia praecox or the group ofschizophrenias. Monograph series on schizophrenia no. 1. Translated by Zinkin, J. Madison, WI: International Universities PressHausser-Hauw, C., Bancaud, J. (1987). Gustatory hallucinations in epileptic seizures. Elec-trophysiological, clinical and anatomical correlates. Brain, 110, 339-359.Kobayakawa, T., Wakita, M., Saito, S., Gotow, N., Sakai, N., Ogawa, H. (2005). Location of the primary gustatory area in humans and its properties, studied by magnetoencephalogra-phy. Chemical Senses, 30(1), i226-i227.Ohayon, M.M. (2000). Prevalence of hallucinations and their pathological associations in the Gustatory Phantasma general population. Psychiatry Research, 97, 153-164. see Gustatory hallucination.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.