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Keywords:

  • taste;
  • hunger;
  • satiety;
  • gustatory cortex;
  • orbitofrontal cortex;
  • primate;
  • sensory-specific satiety

Abstract

  • 1
    In order to determine whether the responsiveness of neurons in the caudolateral orbitofrontal cortex (a secondary cortical gustatory area) is influenced by hunger, the activity evoked by prototypical taste stimuli (glucose, NaCl, HCl, and quinine hydrochloride) and fruit juice was recorded in single neurons in this cortical area before, while, and after cynomolgous macaque monkeys were fed to satiety with glucose or fruit juice.
  • 2
    It was found that the responses of the neurons to the taste of the glucose decreased to zero while the monkey ate it to satiety during the course of which his behaviour turned from avid acceptance to active rejection.
  • 3
    This modulation of responsiveness of the gustatory responses of the neurons to satiety was not due to peripheral adaptation in the gustatory system or to altered efficacy of gustatory stimulation after satiety was reached, because modulation of neuronal responsiveness by satiety was not seen at earlier stages of the gustatory system, including the nucleus of the solitary tract, the frontal opercular taste cortex, and the insular taste cortex.
  • 4
    The decreases in the responsiveness of the neurons were relatively specific to the food with which the monkey had been fed to satiety. For example, in seven experiments in which the monkey was fed glucose solution, neuronal responsiveness decreased to the taste of the glucose but not to the taste of blackcurrant juice. Conversely, in two experiments in which the monkey was fed to satiety with fruit juice, the responses of the neurons decreased to fruit juice but not to glucose.
  • 5
    These and earlier findings lead to a proposed neurophysiological mechanism for sensory-specific satiety in which the information coded by single neurons in the gustatory system becomes more specific through the processing stages consisting of the nucleus of the solitary tract, the taste thalamus, and the frontal opercular and insular taste primary taste cortices, until neuronal responses become relatively specific for the food tasted in the caudolateral orbitofrontal cortex (secondary) taste area. Then sensory-specific satiety occurs because in this caudolateral orbitofrontal cortex taste area (but not earlier in the taste system) it is a property of the synapses that repeated stimulation results in a decreased neuronal response.
  • 6
    Evidence was obtained that gustatory processing involved in thirst also becomes interfaced to motivation in the caudolateral orbitofrontal cortex taste projection area, in that neuronal responses here to water were decreased to zero while water was drunk until satiety was produced.