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Graphical Abstract and Neuron Cover Art for Taste Buds Research

 There are sensory organs called “taste buds” on the tongues to experience tastes that are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory (or umami). In a new study seen in Neuron, Dr. Taruno and his team at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine report the identity of taste cells in the taste buds dedicated to the sodium-selective, attractive component of salty taste and their intracellular signal transduction.

The paper can be seen at (Neuron )

Dr. Taruno requested me to create both graphical abstract and cover art for the paper. In the graphical abstract, it was his idea to insert a table salt figure to make clear what taste is studied. Adding illustrations of a table salt and a mouse sticking out the tongue makes the graphical abstract friendly to audience.

First rough sketches of two types of graphical abstract.

Submitted graphical abstract. The median sulcus of the tongue was corrected. Also, learned that gustatory nerves were not actually in conjunction with taste cells.


Neuron Cover Submission


Designing the cover art for this paper was quite fun. The concepts of salt and the shape of taste buds are very inspiring. I followed my first inspiration when I learnt this paper, which was a girl holding a large balloon. Since the topics is all about salt, I decided to actually use salt largely for the cover art.

My first rough idea of the cover art. A girl is a sort of a fairy of saltiness. The strings, balloons are a metaphors of the afferent nerves and taste cells.

Salt art experiment!

Like I did for Cell Stem Cell cover, I first used a salt-on-watercolor technique which is simply sprinkling salt on damped water color paint. The results turned out not very strong. Then I tried actually collaging bunch of salt on the paper then take a high resolution photo above the work.

Photograph of a salt art. It was like a sand art.

I didn’t know how this would turn out, so it was kind of experiment. To add more details, line drawing was done digitally above the photograph. After some adjustments of color and texture, very interesting art was made.

A finished Cover Art (with official Neuron logo.)

The official legend of the art, as published by Neuron, is as follows: “Overconsumption of sodium due to its palatability leads to hypertension. However, mechanisms underlying the peripheral perception of sodium taste remain unclear. In this issue of Neuron, Nomura et al. (pages 816–829) report the identity of taste cells dedicated to sodium taste and their intracellular signal transduction. The cover represents the gustatory pathway dedicated to sodium taste, showing a “salt fairy” grabbing a rope connected to the red part of a colorful balloon, where the ropes, balloon, and red color of the balloon are metaphors of the afferent nerves, a taste bud, and sodium-sensing taste cells, respectively. The snow and sea of salt in the background represent the excessive intake of salt in modern life. Copious amounts of table salt have been liberally sprinkled or accumulated on the watercolor background. Artwork by Misaki Ouchida.”

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