Taste responses to mixtures: analytic processing of quality

Behav Neurosci. 2003 Apr;117(2):228-35. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.117.2.228.


The tastes of 100 mM sodium chloride (NaCl), 100 mM sucrose, and 1 mM quinine hydrochloride in mixtures were investigated in golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) with a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) paradigm. CTAs, established in golden hamsters by injection of lithium chloride, were quantified as percent suppression of control 1-hr stimulus intake. CTAs for 10 of 15 stimulus pairs with common components symmetrically cross-generalized, suggesting that component qualities were recognized in binary and ternary mixtures. However, CTAs to quinine were hardly learned and were weakly expressed when quinine was mixed with NaCl, and generalizations from multiple to single stimuli were stronger than vice versa (i.e., asymmetric). The behaviors reflect peripheral inhibition and/or central mixture suppression. Nonetheless, components retain their distinct qualities in mixtures, suggesting that taste processing is analytic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Generalization, Psychological
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Lithium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Quinine / pharmacology
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sucrose
  • Quinine
  • Lithium Chloride