Sex differences in conditioned taste aversion and in the effects of exposure to a specific pulsed magnetic field in deer mice Peromyscus maniculatus

Physiol Behav. 2000 Nov 1-15;71(3-4):237-49. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(00)00323-1.


Although conditioned taste aversion (CTA) has been investigated and described in laboratory rodents and domestic animals, less is known regarding wild rodents. Here, we describe CTA in males and females of a "wild" species of rodent, the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus). In addition, as CTA has often been induced by exposure to intense electromagnetic, X or gamma, radiation, in a second study, we also investigated the effects of a specifically designed, pulsed extremely low-frequency and low-intensity magnetic field on the flavor preferences of male and female deer mice. The results of these investigations showed that: (i) deer mice quickly developed a marked CTA for a novel flavor after a single pairing with LiCl; (ii) although the intensity of the CTA was the same in males and females, there was a sex difference in the duration of the flavor aversion, with males displaying it for a longer period (4 days) than females (3 days); (iii) both males and females showed a rapid and complete extinction of the aversion, in contrast to what has been reported for laboratory rodents; (iv) there was no recovery of CTA on re-test 10 days after extinction; (v) neither male or female deer mice developed a taste aversion as a consequence of exposure to a weak electromagnetic field; and (vi) there was a sex difference in response to the magnetic field, with exposure to the magnetic field significantly enhancing novel taste preference in male but not in female deer mice. Overall, our results show that there are several sex differences in the behavior of deer mice, both in the characteristics of the CTA and in the response to magnetic field exposure. The sex differences are discussed in terms of a sexually dimorphic sensitivity to experimental manipulation and the induction of stress and/or anxiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Beverages
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Drinking / drug effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Fruit
  • Lithium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Magnetics*
  • Male
  • Peromyscus / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Solutions
  • Sucrose
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Solutions
  • Sucrose
  • Lithium Chloride