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Physiol Behav. 2005 Mar 16;84(3):363-9. Epub 2005 Jan 27.

Taste pathways that mediate accumbens dopamine release by sapid sucrose.

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  • 1Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences H181, The Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Although it has been associated with the release of dopamine in the forebrain, reward remains a conundrum in neuroscience. Sucrose is inherently rewarding and its sensory message reaches the brain via the gustatory system. In rodents, the central gustatory system bifurcates in the pontine parabrachial nuclei, one arm forming a standard thalamocortical axis, the other distributing widely in the limbic forebrain. We report here that lesions of the gustatory thalamus fail to affect dopamine overflow during sucrose licking (149+/-5% vs. 149+/-4% for controls). Similar damage to the parabrachial nuclei, which severs the limbic taste projection, substantially reduces dopamine release from the nucleus accumbens (121+/-4% vs. 168+/-9% for sham operated controls; p<0.02). This represents the first demonstration that the affective character of a sensory stimulus might separate from the thalamocortical system as early as the second central synapse.

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