We aim to test the feasibility of using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for indirect measurement of human saliva secretion in response to taste stimuli for potential application to organoleptic testing. We use an NIRS system to measure extracranial hemodynamics (Hb-signals around the temples) of healthy participants when taste stimuli are taken in their mouths. First, the Hb-signals and volume of expelled saliva (stimulated by distilled-water or sucrose-solution intake) are simultaneously measured and large Hb-signal changes in response to the taste stimuli (Hb-responses) are found. Statistical analysis show that both the Hb response and saliva volume are larger for the sucrose solution than for the distilled water with a significant correlation between them (r = 0.81). The effects of swallowing on the Hb-signals are investigated. Similar Hb responses, differing from the sucrose solution and distilled water, are obtained even though the participants swallow the mouth contents. Finally, functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to identify possible sources of the Hb signals corresponding to salivation. Statistical analysis indicates similar responses in the extracranial regions, mainly around the middle meningeal artery. In conclusion, the identified correlation between extracranial hemodynamics and the saliva volume suggests that NIRS is applicable to the measurement of hemodynamic signals accompanying stimulated saliva secretion.
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