Neural correlates of tasting concentrated quinine and sugar solutions

David H. Zald, Mathew C. Hagen, Jose V Pardo

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139 Scopus citations


Behavioral, ethological, and electrophysiological evidence suggests that the highly unpleasant, bitter taste of a concentrated quinine hydrochloride (QHCL) should activate the human amygdala. In the present study, healthy subjects tasted 0.02 M QHCL or water while regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was assayed with H2 15O PET. Subjects were also studied while tasting a pleasant sucrose solution and resting with eyes closed (ECR). Tasting QHCL significantly increased rCBF within the left amygdala relative to control conditions of tasting water and ECR. Sucrose and water caused small to moderate rCBF increases in the amygdala relative to ECR, but sucrose did not significantly increase activity within either amygdalae relative to water. In the frontal lobe, QHCL and sucrose both activated the right posterior orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) relative to water, but portions of the anterior OFC and inferior frontal pole showed valence specific responses to QHCL. These data indicate that the left amygdala responds robustly to QHCL and more moderately to nonaversive sapid stimuli, both pleasant and unpleasant gustatory stimuli activate the right posterior OFC, and the left inferior frontal pole/anterior OFC demonstrates valence-specific responses to aversive gustatory stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1068-1075
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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