Flavour exposures after conditioned aversion or preference trigger different brain processes in anaesthetised pigs


D. Val-Laillet, as above.
E-mail: david.val-laillet@rennes.inra.fr


We describe the behavioural consequences of conditioned flavour aversion and preference in pigs and have investigated the brain circuits involved in the representation of flavours with different hedonic values. The study was performed on eight 30-kg pigs. (i) Animals were negatively conditioned to an F− flavour added to a meal followed by LiCl intraduodenal (i.d.) injection, and positively conditioned to an F+ flavour added to a meal followed by NaCl i.d. injection. F+ and F− were thyme or cinnamon flavours. After each conditioning, the behavioural activities were recorded; (ii) One and 5 weeks later, animals were subjected to three two-choice food tests to investigate their preferences between F+, F− and a novel flavour (O); and (iii) Anaesthetised animals were subjected to three SPECT brain imaging sessions: control situation (no flavour) and exposure to F+ and to F−. The negative reinforcement induced a physical malaise and visceral illness. After a positive reinforcement, animals showed playing or feeding motivation and quietness. F+ was significantly preferred over O and F−, and O was significantly preferred over F−. Both F− and F+ induced some metabolic differences in neural circuits involved in sensory associative processes, learning and memory, emotions, reward and feeding motivation. Exposure to F+ induced a higher activity in corticolimbic and reward-related areas, while F− induced a deactivation of the basal nuclei and limbic thalamic nuclei. This study reveals the unconscious cognitive dimension evoked by food flavours according to the individual experience, and highlights the importance of the food sensory image on hedonism and anticipatory eating behaviour.