Representational Systems

Gustatory System Processing

Our gustatory system relates to our sense of taste. As a primitive system, it is not so valued in our modern world. NLP doesn’t consider taste as one of the major representational systems. We generally don’t use it significantly to build our models of the world.

Both the gustatory and the olfactory system are strongly connected. NLP often combines them as one component in the modeling process for instance. They do have separate channels however.

Have you ever noticed how food seems to have little taste when you have a cold? Try holding your nose when you taste something and notice that taste is dependent on odor.

Using Gustatory Processing

While few people have this as a dominant representational system, some occupations rely heavily on fine distinctions in it. For instance, chefs and wine tasters can distinguish between many aspects of sweet, sour, bitter and salty that most of us wouldn’t notice.

We sometimes use taste representations in unexpected and seemingly metaphorical ways. We might “get a taste” for some strange activity, or need to “chew something over” for a while.

Primary Pleasure

Developing gustatory distinctions can enhance the pleasure we experience in everyday tasks.

Paying attention to what we eat, the different flavors and subtleties can spice up our life. Too often, we eat junk food in a hurry and don’t taste it at all. We can end up with a bland and tasteless existence.

We can sometimes spark up our sex lives by paying attention to the different erotic tastes and smells.


Because taste is such a primitive channel, with links to the brainstem rather than the cortex, it can be a powerful anchor. When I was pregnant, I had cravings for pineapple juice. The taste still makes me recall the morning sickness.

Gustatory words

Words that may indicate a person is processing with their gustatory system are:

Flavor, savor, taste, bite, nibble, chew, gnaw, grind, tang, sweet, bitter, astringent, savory, salty, spice, zest, essence, relish, aftertaste.

Gustatory Clues

Other clues that someone is processing in the gustatory system are:

  • The person may lick their lips or look like they are chewing.
  • Breathing patterns and speech are similar to the kinesthetic system.

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