Sex differences in biobehavioral responses to conflict in a taste aversion paradigm

Joanne Weinberg, Megan R. Gunnar, Linda P. Brett, Carol A. Gonzalez, Seymour Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


A conditioned aversion to a novel milk solution was produced, and animals were then reexposed to milk while nondeprived (low conflict) or following a 72-hr food and water deprivation regimen (high conflict). No sex differences occurred if animals were nondeprived throughout testing. However, if deprived during the interval between conditioning and reexposure, sex differences in both behavior and adrenocortical responses occurred: (1) Presession corticoid levels of females were higher than those of males. (2) On the first reexposure day, females showed a suppression of plasma corticosterone below presession levels, while males maintained elevated or increased corticosterone levels. (3) On the second reexposure day, when no longer deprived, males showed a marked suppression of intake compared to females, and females subsequently recovered to pretoxicosis intake levels faster than males. (4) Gonadectomy eliminated these sex differences. While ovariectomized females continued to resemble intact females in both behavioral and hormonal responses, castrated males exhibited a corticoid suppression on the first reexposure day, and subsequently recovered to pretoxicosis intake levels at the same rate as females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-210
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • Approach-avoidance conflict
  • Conditioned taste aversion
  • Gonadectomy
  • Pituitary-adrenal system
  • Plasma corticosterone
  • Rat
  • Sex differences

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