Taste Reactivity as a Dependent Measure of the Rapid Formation of Conditioned Taste Aversion: A Tool for the Neural Analysis of Taste-Visceral Associations

Alan C. Spector, Paul Breslin, Harvey J. Grill

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130 Scopus citations


Several explanations may account for deficits in the ability of animals to form taste aversions following neural manipulations. These encompass impairments in conditioned stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus (US) processing, conditioned response (CR) measurement, and expression, memory, and taste-visceral integration. A behavioral procedure that aids in the distinction between some of these possibilities is presented. In Experiment 1, 10 rats received seven intraoral (IO) infusions of sucrose (30 s, 0.55 ml) spaced every 5 min starting immediately after the injection of 3.0 mEq/kg of lithium chloride (LiCl). Control rats (n = 12) were treated identically except that they were injected with sodium chloride (NaCl). Oromotor and somatic taste reactivity behaviors were videotaped and analyzed. Lithium-injected rats systematically decreased their ingestive taste reactivity behavior over time, whereas aversive behavior increased. Control rats maintained high and stable levels of ingestive responding and demonstrated virtually no aversive behavior over the 30-min period following sodium injection. Rats were tested several days later for the presence of a conditioned taste aversion (CTA). Rats previously injected with lithium during sucrose infusions demonstrated significantly more aversive behavior than the control group, which demonstrated none. There were no differences in the level of ingestive behavior displayed by the two groups on the CTA test. Experiment 3 revealed that when similarly treated rats were tested for a CTA while in a lithium-induced state, a difference in the ingestive behavior between the two groups was observed. In Experiment 2, naive rats were injected with either NaCl or LiCl but did not receive their first sucrose infusion until 20 min later. These rats also received sucrose infusions at 25 and 30 min postinjection. There were no differences in the taste reactivity behavior displayed by lithium- or sodium-injected rats during any of the sucrose infusions. Collectively, these findings indicate that rats dramatically change their oromotor responses to sucrose during the period following LiCl administration, provided that the infusions start immediately after injection. Furthermore, this time-related behavioral change is predominantly attributable to associative processes. This paradigm can be useful in distinguishing between neural manipulations that affect the establishment of taste-visceral associations from others that affect the animal's ability to retain such associations over the commonly employed 24-hr conditioning-test interval.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)942-952
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1988
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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