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Nat Neurosci. 2006 Mar;9(3):435-42. Epub 2006 Feb 5.

Altering expectancy dampens neural response to aversive taste in primary taste cortex.

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Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, Waisman Center, Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Wisconsin, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-2274, USA.


The primary taste cortex consists of the insula and operculum. Previous work has indicated that neurons in the primary taste cortex respond solely to sensory input from taste receptors and lingual somatosensory receptors. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show here that expectancy modulates these neural responses in humans. When subjects were led to believe that a highly aversive bitter taste would be less distasteful than it actually was, they reported it to be less aversive than when they had accurate information about the taste and, moreover, the primary taste cortex was less strongly activated. In addition, the activation of the right insula and operculum tracked online ratings of the aversiveness for each taste. Such expectancy-driven modulation of primary sensory cortex may affect perceptions of external events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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