The Miracle Berry: A Sweet Surprise

October 31, 2011

by

The Mind and Brain Society (MBS) hosted a “flavor tripping” celebration of sense perception at BU Central Wednesday night. Distributing “the miracle berry” to a limited number of people, MBS members filled the room with tables of sliced lemons, shots of hot sauce, Sour Patch Kids and other foods that didn’t taste quite right.

Upon chewing the miracle berry, formally known as Richardella dulfica, students found that apparent sour and spicy foods that touched their tongues were suddenly sweet.

The Miracle Berry. | Photo courtesy of user Hamale via Wikimedia Commons

“[The miracle berry] contains a protein called miraculin that binds to taste receptors and makes bitter things taste sweet,” Macayla Donegan, a member of MBS, said.

Students were instructed to bite down on the berry, swirl it around in their mouths for 3-4 minutes, and then taste the variety of savory and sour foods available. The palatal experience lasted different lengths of time for different people, although the typical bout of flavor confusion ended within an hour.

The miracle berry grows in West Africa, Puerto Rico, and other areas with tropical climates. Berries typically sell for 2-3 dollars each, and are available from various online suppliers. MBS members ordered over 300 berries for the “tastravaganza” event and distributed them to curious BU students.

The MBS has hosted miracle-berry centered events in the past: their first one took place in the fall of 2010. Members have also hosted brain food events to provide students with helpful nutritional tips during common times of stress.

The Mind and Brain Society serves as an intellectual outlet for students interested in all things neuroscience: members host student-lead discussions, take trips to New York City, publish “The Nerve” blog and teach topics of neuroscience at other schools.

To learn more about BU’s Mind and Brain Society, visit their blog at http://blogs.bu.edu/ombs/