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Front Hum Neurosci. 2016 Oct 17;10:511. eCollection 2016.

The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study.

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Olfaction: From Coding to Memory Team, Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, CNRS UMR 5292 - INSERM U1028 - Université de Lyon 1 Lyon, France.
Sorbonne Universités, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Institut de Biologie Paris Seine, UM 119, CNRS, UMR 8246, Neuroscience Paris Seine Paris, France.


The study of food aversion in humans by the induction of illness is ethically unthinkable, and it is difficult to propose a type of food that is disgusting for everybody. However, although cheese is considered edible by most people, it can also be perceived as particularly disgusting to some individuals. As such, the perception of cheese constitutes a good model to study the cerebral processes of food disgust and aversion. In this study, we show that a higher percentage of people are disgusted by cheese than by other types of food. Functional magnetic resonance imaging then reveals that the internal and external globus pallidus and the substantia nigra belonging to the basal ganglia are more activated in participants who dislike or diswant to eat cheese (Anti) than in other participants who like to eat cheese, as revealed following stimulation with cheese odors and pictures. We suggest that the aforementioned basal ganglia structures commonly involved in reward are also involved in the aversive motivated behaviors. Our results further show that the ventral pallidum, a core structure of the reward circuit, is deactivated in Anti subjects stimulated by cheese in the wanting task, highlighting the suppression of motivation-related activation in subjects disgusted by cheese.


basal ganglia; disgust; disliking; diswanting; fMRI; food aversion; motivational salience; reward circuit

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