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Physiol Behav. 2003 Oct;80(1):37-47.

Palatability, food intake and the behavioural satiety sequence in male rats.

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Behavioural Pharmacology Laboratory, School of Psychology, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, Leeds, UK.


Food intake is influenced not only by nutritional status but also by diverse environmental factors. Indeed, a unique quality of food reward is its strong modulation by palatability cues, such as taste, with animals generally preferring diets that are sweet and avoiding those that are either bitter or sour. As appetite suppressants (including those currently in development) could alter food intake by modifying taste sensitivity and/or palatability, the aim of the present study was to characterise the influence of taste adulteration on the normal structure of feeding behaviour, i.e., the behavioural satiety sequence (BSS). Adult male rats were initially habituated both to the basic test diet (mash) and the test arena. Following stabilisation of basal intake, a continuous monitoring technique was used to profile behaviour in weekly 1-h sessions during which the animals were presented, in counterbalanced order, with the basic diet (control) or one of four taste-adulterated variants (0.015% quinine, 0.04% quinine, 0.2% saccharin, 0.3% saccharin). Food intake was strongly suppressed by the higher quinine concentration but was not significantly altered by any of the other additives. Behavioural analysis revealed that this anorectic-like response to 0.04% quinine-adulterated food was associated with a significant reduction in the peak feeding response, highly atypical intermittent food sampling/digging and the virtual absence of resting behaviour. Importantly, this pattern of behavioural change is readily distinguishable from those seen in response to other manipulations that reduce intake, including selective anorectics, sedatives and psychostimulants. Despite the lack of significant effect on food intake or the duration of feeding behaviour, dietary adulteration with 0.015% quinine (and, to a lesser degree, 0.3% saccharin) produced some effects on behavioural structure/time course consistent with a mild aversive response, i.e., bouts of midsession food sampling and a delay in the transition from eating to resting. Data are discussed in relation to the specific behavioural signature to quinine-induced anorexia and its potential utility in identifying appetite suppressants that may modify intake via changes in taste sensitivity and/or palatability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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