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Dev Psychobiol. 1994 Sep;27(6):381-94.

Ontogeny of the ionic specificity of sodium appetite in the rat pup.

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Department of Psychology, Haifa University, Israel.


Sodium-deficient adult rats prefer NaCl to other monochloride salts (e.g., Denton, 1991; Schulkin, 1991). However, it is not known when or how this specificity develops. Our experiments charted the development of the ionic specificity of sodium appetite aroused by sodium depletion or intracerebroventricular injection of renin. We compared intake of 3% NaCl to three other monochlorides, potassium (K), ammonium (NH4), and lithium (Li), and calcium chloride (CaCl2) at various ages between 72 hr postnatal and weaning. This revealed a biphasic developmental scheme: The adult pattern of discrimination between the salts emerges between 3 and 18 days of age. Subsequently, the preference for Na over the other salts increases into adulthood.

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