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Behav Neurosci. 2007 Dec;121(6):1383-92.

Importance of retronasal and orthonasal olfaction for odor aversion memory in rats.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR 5020, Neurosciences Sensorielles, Comportement, Cognition, Lyon, France.


The role of odors in food memory formation, especially for aversions, has long been considered secondary to taste. However, the importance of odor ingestion in conditioned odor aversion (COA) has recently challenged this assumption (B. M. Slotnick, F. Westbrook, & F. M. C. Darling, 1997). The aim of the present study was to evaluate the respective role of orthonasal and retronasal olfactory experience in COA acquisition, long-term retention, extinction, and spontaneous recovery. To this end, the odor was presented either close to the drinking spout (orthonasal stimulation) or close to and mixed with the drinking water (eliciting both orthonasal and retronasal stimulation). The authors brought evidence that odor ingestion was crucial for COA acquisition, especially when odor presentation and gastric malaise were separated by long delays. On the contrary, once formed, a distal (orthonasal) odor recognition was sufficient for COA to be retrieved. COA was odor specific and long lasting (more than 50 days). Moreover, results brought evidence for a spontaneous recovery of odor aversion tested 57 days after its extinction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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