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Appetite. 2018 Mar 1;122:36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.03.048. Epub 2017 Apr 2.

The convergence of psychology and neurobiology in flavor-nutrient learning.

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Department of Psychology, Programs in Animal Behavior and Neuroscience, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, USA. Electronic address:


Flavor evaluation is influenced by learning from experience with foods. One main influence is flavor-nutrient learning (FNL), a Pavlovian process whereby a flavor acts as a conditioned stimulus (CS) that becomes associated with the postingestive effects of ingested nutrients (the US). As a result that flavor becomes preferred and intake typically increases. This learning powerfully influences food choice and meal patterning. This paper summarizes how research elucidating the physiological and neural substrates of FNL has progressed in parallel with work characterizing how FNL affects perception, motivation, and behavior. The picture that emerges from this work is of a robust system of appetition (a term coined by Sclafani in contrast to the better-understood satiation signals) whereby ingested nutrients sensed in the gut evoke positive motivational responses. Appetition signals act within a meal to promote continued intake in immediate response to gut feedback, and act in the longer term to steer preference towards sensory cues that predict nutritional consequences.


Appetition; Food choice; Learning; Meal size; Motivation; Palatability

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