The taste of ethanol in a primate model: II. Glossopharyngeal nerve response in Macaca mulatta

Vicktoria Danilova, Göran Hellekant

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18 Scopus citations


The glossopharyngeal nerve (NG) mediates taste from the posterior part of the tongue. Here, we studied the effects of ethanol on the tongue in recordings from both the whole NG and individual taste fibers of the rhesus monkey, Macaca mulatta. The results show that the nerve activity increased at 0.7 M ethanol, reaching half maximum at around 4 M alcohol. Previously, we identified three types of taste fibers in the rhesus monkey NG: S fibers predominantly responding to sweeteners, Q fibers responding to bitter, such as quinine hydrochloride (QHCl), and M fibers responding best to monosodium glutamate, NaCl and acids [Hellekant, G., Danilova, V., and Ninomiya, Y. (1997). Primate sense of taste: behavioral and single chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal nerve fiber recordings in the rhesus monkey, Macaca mulatta. J Neurophysiol 77, 978-993]. Here, this fiber classification was used to elucidate the oral effects of ethanol and ethanol mixtures with NaCl, sucrose, citric acid and QHCl. One and three molar concentrations of ethanol stimulated all fiber types. Mixtures of ethanol with QHCl elicited a smaller response in Q fibers than did QHCl alone. In S fibers, mixtures of ethanol with sucrose gave a larger response than did sucrose alone. The variability of M fibers was too large to allow a conclusion about the effect of ethanol. These results suggest that ethanol suppresses the taste of QHCl. Similarly, the taste of sucrose might be enhanced by adding ethanol to sucrose. These effects and conclusions corroborate an earlier ethanol study of the chorda tympani (CT) nerve [Hellekant, G., Danilova, V., Roberts, T., and Ninomiya, Y. (1997). The taste of ethanol in a primate model: I. Chorda tympani nerve response in Macaca mulatta. Alcohol 14, 473-484]. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-269
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partly supported by NIH grant AA09391. This paper is WRPC publication 39-021.


  • Alcohol
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ethanol
  • Glossopharyngeal nerve
  • Mixtures
  • Primates
  • Rhesus
  • Single fibers
  • Taste


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