Taste in Chimpanzees II: Single Chorda Tympani Fibers

Göran Hellekant, Yuzo Ninomiya, Vicktoria Danilova

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Data are presented from 48 taste fibers in chorda tympani nerves of 10 chimpanzees during taste stimulation with 29 stimuli. The results demonstrated a higher taste fiber specificity than in any other mammalian species reported; breadth of tuning equals 0.3. Hierarchical cluster analysis separated an S-cluster (50% of all fibers), an N-cluster (31%), and a Q-cluster (19%). The S-cluster showed the highest specificity. Its fibers responded, with few exceptions, to every sweetener tested, including the sweet proteins brazzein and monellin. The response grew with increasing sweetener concentration. A large response to one sweetener was generally accompanied by a large response to all other sweeteners, and vice versa. Except for one broadly tuned fiber, the fibers of the S-cluster never responded to the bitter compounds. The fibers of the Q-cluster were more broadly tuned than any other fibers. Quinine hydrochloride was their best stimulus, but most fibers were also stimulated by KCl and NaCl with amiloride. Acids stimulated some of these fibers. The N-cluster could be divided into 3 subclusters: an Na-subcluster (3 fibers), Na-K subcluster (10 fibers), and M-subcluster (3 fibers). The Na-fibers responded strongly to, and were quite specific to, NaCl and LiCl stimulation but not to KCl, and fibers of the Na-K subcluster responded equally well to NaCl and KCl. The response to NaCl was suppressed by amiloride in the fibers of the Na-subcluster, but not in the fibers of the Na-K subcluster. Umami compounds elicited the strongest responses in the M-subcluster.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-841
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Chimpanzee
  • Chorda tympani nerve
  • Primates
  • Single fiber recording
  • Sweet taste
  • Taste quality coding


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