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Am J Physiol. 1998 Jun;274(6):R1687-703. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1998.274.6.R1687.

Role of taste in the microstructure of quinine ingestion by rats.

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Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.


The microstructure of the licking behavior of water-deprived rats presented with either water or quinine during 45-min single-bottle tests was analyzed. The chorda tympani (CT) and glossopharyngeal (GL) nerves, which innervate the taste buds of the tongue, were transected in deeply anesthetized rats to discern their contribution to the behavioral pattern of quinine drinking. Rats were presurgically habituated to the testing protocol and postsurgically tested first with water and then novel 0.2 mM quinine-HCl in a subsequent session. The substantial decrease in intake observed in sham-operated controls (n = 16) when quinine was the stimulus was entirely a function of a decrease in lick volume and burst size (a run of licks with interlick intervals <1 s). Contrary to the intake-suppressing effects of quinine, pause duration decreased and burst number increased. Combined transection of the CT and GL (n = 6) strikingly opposed all of these quinine-induced behavioral changes, whereas CT transection (n = 7) was without effect and GL transection (n = 8) had an intermediate influence. These results suggest that taste acts more on neural circuits governing burst termination as opposed to burst initiation, which, in turn, appears to be more sensitive to signals related to physiological state. These findings are discussed in terms of other known nerve transection effects on quinine responsiveness, and the implications of the microstructural results are considered with respect to probabilistic as opposed to deterministic control of licking behavior.

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