Why people like spicy food: Sriracha, wasabi reaction on tongue (VIDEO).

Inside Your Tongue’s Distressed, Excited Reaction to Sriracha and Wasabi

Inside Your Tongue’s Distressed, Excited Reaction to Sriracha and Wasabi

The state of the universe.
April 30 2015 7:59 AM

What Happens When You Taste Wasabi and Sriracha?

Inside your tongue’s panicked, excited reaction.

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Wasabi and Sriracha each activate different receptors on the tongue, both of which warn your brain of the atomic reaction to come. These key flavor receptors, TRPA1 and TRPV1, have been the subject of recent research—but why all the scientific study of hot and spicy condiments? One word: pain.

The video above explains how our tongues react to heat in our food, and how that often triggers the body’s own bespoke painkiller.

Paca Thomas is a regular video contributor to Slate.