Conditioned taste aversions (CTAs) are well known to be robust and long-lasting instances of learning induced by a single CS (taste)-US (malaise) pairing. CTA can be taken as a general model to search for neural mechanisms of learning and memory. In spite of extensive research on CTAs using a variety of approaches during the last three decades, the neural mechanisms of taste aversion learning still remain unsolved. In this article we propose a model of neural substrates of CTAs on the basis of our recent studies incorporating previous findings by other workers. Our studies mainly included experiments using ibotenic acid injections into various parts of the rat brain as a lesion technique, and c-fos immunohistochemistry in naive and CTA trained rats. CTAs were established by pairing the ingestion of saccharin (CS) with an ip injection of LiCl (US). Behavioral studies have shown that the parabrachial nucleus (PBN), medial thalamus, and basolateral nucleus of the amygdala are essential for both acquisition and retention of CTAs. C-fos studies suggested that association between gustatory CS and visceral US takes place in the PBN. The gustatory cortex (GC) may modify the strength of this association depending on the nature of the CS, viz., novel or familiar. The amygdala is indispensable for the expressions of CTAs. Tastes with hedonic values are stored in the GC in a long-term manner.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience