When a taste is on an animal's tongue, behavior must soon follow--the substance must either be swallowed or expelled. This intimate coupling between stimulus and response implies that the function of gustatory neural circuits is to transform taste activity into response activity in 2-3 seconds; this in turn implies that neurons in these circuits may respond to tastes with temporal codes (i. e., responses that change through time) that reflect the perception-to-action transformation. My lab has begun to look for such content in taste- related temporal codes in cortex, identifying epochs of the neural responses in which """"""""pure"""""""" chemosensory information seems to become imbued with emotional meaning in anticipation of consumption or rejection. The experiments proposed here will use large arrays of tastes, in association with chronic recordings of ensembles of GC single neurons, careful observation of rat taste-related behaviors, and pharmacological manipulation, to thoroughly explore features of the temporal codes that are related to taste identity, palatability/emotion, and the act of consuming or rejecting taste substances. First, we will look at responses to multiple tastes from each 'basic taste' category (sweet, salty, sour, and bitter), to determine how more and less similar tastes are distinguished by their associated temporal codes. Next, we will examine neural responses to, and preferences for, a range of taste concentrations-concentrations that should all be recognizable as the same taste, but that should vary widely in palatability and even in exact flavor; this should allow us to independently manipulate the palatability-related parts of the temporal codes. We will also manipulate the palatability of an individual tastant by increasing the rats' appetite for sodium, to test whether such changes are represented only in palatability-related parts of the temporal codes. Finally, we will inactivate the amygdala, thought to be the source of much of the palatability/emotional information in the brain, during tasting; if the amygdala truly imbues the taste with palatability, then this manipulation should only effect the palatability-related parts of cortical temporal codes. These experiments should greatly expand our understanding of how taste processing works in cortex, and as such should affect how we think about sensory processing in general.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
Program Officer
Davis, Barry
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Brandeis University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Flores, Veronica L; Parmet, Tamar; Mukherjee, Narendra et al. (2018) The role of the gustatory cortex in incidental experience-evoked enhancement of later taste learning. Learn Mem 25:587-600
Flores, Veronica L; Moran, Anan; Bernstein, Max et al. (2016) Preexposure to salty and sour taste enhances conditioned taste aversion to novel sucrose. Learn Mem 23:221-8
Baez-Santiago, Madelyn A; Reid, Emily E; Moran, Anan et al. (2016) Dynamic taste responses of parabrachial pontine neurons in awake rats. J Neurophysiol 115:1314-23
Sadacca, Brian F; Mukherjee, Narendra; Vladusich, Tony et al. (2016) The Behavioral Relevance of Cortical Neural Ensemble Responses Emerges Suddenly. J Neurosci 36:655-69
Li, Jennifer X; Maier, Joost X; Reid, Emily E et al. (2016) Sensory Cortical Activity Is Related to the Selection of a Rhythmic Motor Action Pattern. J Neurosci 36:5596-607
Maier, Joost X; Blankenship, Meredith L; Li, Jennifer X et al. (2015) A Multisensory Network for Olfactory Processing. Curr Biol 25:2642-50
Maier, Joost X; Blankenship, Meredith L; Barry, Nicholas C et al. (2014) Stability and flexibility of the message carried by semiochemical stimuli, as revealed by devaluation of carbon disulfide followed by social transmission of food preference. Behav Neurosci 128:413-8
Monk, Kevin J; Rubin, Benjamin D; Keene, Jennifer C et al. (2014) Licking microstructure reveals rapid attenuation of neophobia. Chem Senses 39:203-13
Moran, Anan; Katz, Donald B (2014) Sensory cortical population dynamics uniquely track behavior across learning and extinction. J Neurosci 34:1248-57
Pavão, Rodrigo; Piette, Caitlin E; Lopes-dos-Santos, Vítor et al. (2014) Local field potentials in the gustatory cortex carry taste information. J Neurosci 34:8778-87

Showing the most recent 10 out of 28 publications