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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1998 Nov 30;855:575-8.

Functional lateralization of human gustatory cortex related to handedness disclosed by fMRI study.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Sensorielle, E.P.H.E., Massy, France.


Ten healthy subjects aged 20-25 including five right-handed and five left-handed according to the Dellatolas test participated in this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. A 3 Tesla whole-body MR scanner allowed echo planar imaging (EPI)-64 x 64 pixels, repetition time (TR) = 6 s, field of view (FOV) = 20 x 20 cm2--associated to acute anatomical localization of activated foci (256 x 256 pixels). Subjects were bilaterally stimulated with NaCl 85 mM, aspartame 2 mM, quinine hydrochloride 1 mM, glycyrrhizic acid 0.5 mM, guanosine monophosphate 1 mM and D-threonine 250 mM alternating with water. Stimuli and rinse were continuously pushed as bolus of 50 microliters every 3 s to the subject's mouth through microsyringes. We detected brain activated areas by correlation of the MR signal to an on-line perception profile recorded for each experiment and each subject with the finger-span method. We found most activations in the insula and the perisylvian region in agreement with previous electrophysiological studies on monkeys and clinical reports in humans. The superior part of the insula was bilaterally activated, in accordance with a whole-mouth stimulation. A striking lateralization related to handedness was found in a lower part of the insula. This projection in the dominant hemisphere, located in the same coronal plane as the upper insular activation, is the first evidence of a functional lateralization of brain processing involved in taste perception.

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