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Nature. 2015 Nov 26;527(7579):512-5. doi: 10.1038/nature15763. Epub 2015 Nov 18.

Sweet and bitter taste in the brain of awake behaving animals.

Peng Y1,2,3, Gillis-Smith S1,2,3, Jin H1,2,3, Tränkner D1,2,3,4, Ryba NJ5, Zuker CS1,2,3,4.

Author information

1
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.
2
Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.
3
Department of Neuroscience, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.
4
HHMI/Janelia Farm Research Campus, 19700 Helix Drive, Ashburn, Virginia 20147, USA.
5
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

Abstract

Taste is responsible for evaluating the nutritious content of food, guiding essential appetitive behaviours, preventing the ingestion of toxic substances, and helping to ensure the maintenance of a healthy diet. Sweet and bitter are two of the most salient sensory percepts for humans and other animals; sweet taste allows the identification of energy-rich nutrients whereas bitter warns against the intake of potentially noxious chemicals. In mammals, information from taste receptor cells in the tongue is transmitted through multiple neural stations to the primary gustatory cortex in the brain. Recent imaging studies have shown that sweet and bitter are represented in the primary gustatory cortex by neurons organized in a spatial map, with each taste quality encoded by distinct cortical fields. Here we demonstrate that by manipulating the brain fields representing sweet and bitter taste we directly control an animal's internal representation, sensory perception, and behavioural actions. These results substantiate the segregation of taste qualities in the cortex, expose the innate nature of appetitive and aversive taste responses, and illustrate the ability of gustatory cortex to recapitulate complex behaviours in the absence of sensory input.

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PMID:
26580015
PMCID:
PMC4712381
DOI:
10.1038/nature15763
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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