Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Document Type


Date of this Version



American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (July 2023) 32(4): 1,770–1,781

doi: 10.1044/2023_AJSLP-22_00384


Copyright 2023, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Used by permission



Swallowing and taste share innervation pathways and are crucial to nutritive intake. Individuals vary in their perception of taste due to factors such as genetics; however, it is unclear to what extent genetic taste status influences swallowing physiology and function. The purpose of this review article is to provide background on genetic taste status, review the evidence on the association between genetic taste status and swallowing, and discuss research and clinical implications.


A comprehensive literature review was conducted using search terms related to swallowing and genetic taste status. Studies were included if they investigated the main effect of genetic taste status on swallowing or the interaction of genetic taste status with other variables. Studies were grouped by participant population (healthy participants or persons with a swallowing disorder), swallowing-related outcome measure, and method of genetic taste status measurement.


The results were mixed, with five of 10 reviewed studies reporting a statistically significant main or interaction effect on swallowing. Most studies included healthy participants, with only one study investigating participants with dysphagia. Additionally, swallowing-related outcome measures and methods of determining genetic taste status varied greatly between studies conducted on separate cohorts.


Few studies have incorporated genetic taste status as a variable in swallowing research, and results are mixed. Future research on sensation and swallowing should consider the potential effect of genetic taste status and follow standardized procedures for its determination. Despite the limited evidence, clinicians may consider how individual differences in perception shape swallowing outcomes.