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2022 Guest Speaker

donald katz
Donald Katz, Professor of Psychology, Departments of Neuroscience, Psychology, and the Volen National Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University

Free presentation intended for a general audience. 

2022 Lecture

Constructing the World of Taste in Your Head
April 4,
4:00 pm
Staller Center Main Stage
Livestreamed at

You fork the morsel into your mouth and say “yum…chocolate cake.” The appreciation of your dessert’s taste seems to follow directly, quickly, and simply from the placement of the food on your tongue. The truth, however, is far more interesting and complex: your brain actually begins determining whether you will enjoy a bite of food even before the fork approaches your mouth and continues to work the problem well after. Information about your food’s color, smell, texture, and taste activates multiple parts of your brain, where that information collides with your pre-mouthful beliefs about how it  should taste. The coming-together and shuffling of that information around the brain takes time, as networks of neurons work together to help you decide whether the morsel in your mouth is worth swallowing. Referring to work from psychology, biology, and computational neuroscience, Professor Katz will de-mystify and reveal the beauty of these complexities of the neuroscience of taste.


Yuck or yum? Neuroscientist Don Katz reveals what the social life of rats can tell us about the origins of taste.