Conditioned taste aversion as a learning and memory paradigm

Behav Brain Res. 2001 Nov 1;125(1-2):205-13. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(01)00302-3.


Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is a well established learning and memory paradigm in rats and mice that is considered to be a special form of classical conditioning. Rodents--as well as many other species including man--learn to associate a novel taste (CS) with nausea (US), and as a consequence avoid drinking fluid with this specific taste. In contrast to other types of classical conditioning, even CS-US intervals lasting several hours lead to an aversion to the gustatory CS. With increasing CS-US delay duration, however, the aversion against the CS gradually decreases. Mice differ from rats in their reaction to the CS as well as the US. They tolerate a much higher concentration of saccharin and they do not show any clear signs of nausea when injected with the US. Advantages of this task are its relative independence of motor behavior, well described pathways for the CS and partly the US, and the wealth of available anatomical and pharmacological data implying several brain structures (e.g. parabrachial nucleus, amygdala, insular cortex), neurotransmitters and their receptors (e.g. cholinergic system, NMDA-receptors), and cellular processes (e.g. expression of immediate early genes, Ras-MAP kinase signaling pathway, CREB phosphorilation, protein tyrosine phosphorilation, protein synthesis) in CTA. The CTA paradigm has also been successfully used to phenotype mouse mutants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Phenotype*
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity
  • Taste / genetics*